Wichita Falls_Sheppard Air Force Base is adding the taser to its security arsenal - they're going high-tech in their fight against crime - and, taser training has begun for the first time on base. Soon, more than 100 security officers there will have another alternative to deadly force as they patrol and protect the base and its people.
The officers already use pepper spray and collapsible batons, but with Texas winds, pepper spray can blow back in their eyes, and a baton has a limited reach. However, a taser can reach up to 25 feet away, and incapacitate a criminal with a low possibility of doing any permanent harm. The security forces got a slight shock on Tuesday during their training - a sample hit from the posts of their new tasers.
"When you actually get hit, it's kind of surprising," said Flight Chief Terrie Welch with the Security Forces Squadron. "You really don't know what to expect - and it hurts." Welch says all security officers on base will be getting zapped. "It just gives us other options for using force, or using less than deadly force to do our job."
Security Specialist Jeff Taylor demonstrated how to use the taser to incapacitate a criminal which, for healthy individuals, is not lethal. "After the cycle is over, we're right back to being our normal selves," he said. Welch said that the mere sight of a taser on an officers belt may be a deterrent. "Everybody's going to see that sitting on your gunbelt," she said. "I think it will probably deter a lot of the crime that people would want to potentially do."
Despite the fact that taser cartridges are more expensive than rounds for a gun, they could prove to actually be more cost effective. "If we utilize it, then it's non-lethal and we don't have to take a life," she said. "So it's more efficient in the long run."
Every year, each security officer will be required to certify in the proper use of the weapon. They will take a written test, and will fire the taser three times to ensure that they are adequately educated on how to use it.
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