“Ughh,” Officer Mike Chaustit grunts for a few seconds after taking a tase”.
A moment later, without wincing, taser probes are removed from his back.
The demonstration is part of the public forum conducted this past week by the Key West Police Department. Following unanimous approval by the Key West City Commission, the KWPD is now armed with 60 tasers, paid for with federal forfeiture funds.
Police Chief Donie Lee, informed the audience, tasers are an effective way to subdue non-complying citizens who pose a possible threat to the public and police.
“We tasered a non-complying subject twice July 10,” Chief Lee noted without disclosing too many specifics due to legalities in the case. “Our goal with these is to prevent injuries to suspects and officers, and we are already accomplishing this.”
This week, all officers will have completed taser training, an intense procedure which involves each officer taking a tase, and will be armed with the crime-fighting tool. Tasers are registered to officers in the same manner as their firearms, and expend confetti to identify the acting officer. The weapons are also equipped with audio and video recording cameras.
“The taser is not a firearm, nor is it lethal,” Officer Areaka Jewell pointed out. “Unlike sprays or firearms which are only effective in subduing a subject on specific body parts, a taser has full body effectiveness.”
Unlike other force tools, which operate on pain compliance, a taser stops the brain signals from communicating with the skeletal muscles. In short, a suspect cannot move his or her muscles, and recovery is instantaneous.
“We then have a short window of opportunity to place restraints on the suspect, before the muscles recover,” Chief Lee explained.
When the question of pregnancy was introduced, Detective Richard Thomas affirmed absolutely not.
“Of course, we need to be able to see, she is pregnant,” Thomas said. “In some cases there isn’t any way to notice such a case. These tasers are to be used when a suspect physically resists, shows intent to harm an officer, or attempts to flee.”
Statistics from other urban areas in the country show a decrease in suspect and officer injuries after arming officers with tasers. Officer Jewell citing Phoenix (67% decrease) and Cincinnati (80% decrease).
“I feel fine,” Officer Chaustit informed the crowd who had gathered at the Doubletree Grand Key Resort for the demonstration. “The taser is going to give me added confidence in controlling the streets here. Citizens should take comfort in that.”
Tased! Key West Police Officer Michael Chaustit takes a hit during a public demonstration held Monday afternoon at the Doubletree Grand Key resort. Each officer must experience the jolt before carrying the non-lethal device.
I’m alive! Officer Chausitt standing and in good spirits following a tase. Officers will wear the tasers cross-body from the firearm, this ensuring there isn’t any accidental confusion between the two.