Rural Police Departments Say There Is a Need for Tasers - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/28/06

Rural Police Departments Say There Is a Need for Tasers

Suspects resistant to arrest is something police officers everywhere have to deal with at one time or another. But those working in small towns say it's a much bigger problem when you don't have certain resources at your disposal...resources like tasers.

On Friday Idalou authorities were trying to give a man a ticket for disorderly conduct because they say he became disruptive at a grocery store. But instead, they had to forcefully take him into custody when he refused to cooperate with them. The man is now in the Lubbock County Jail.

No one was injured in Friday's incident, but Idalou Police Chief Brian Frieda says officers have been injured, on two occasions, in the past two weeks trying to arrest suspects. He says it's in situations like those that tasers would be useful and police chiefs in surrounding towns agree.

We know that lately, much of the news surrounding tasers has been negative. We've heard it most recently with the death of Juan Nunez III. You'll recall the medical examiner's officer confirmed that a taser, alcohol intoxication and blunt force trauma from a fall contributed to his death. But many smaller law enforcement departments want tasers. They say it's a safe and effective way to apprehend a disorderly suspect.

"I honestly believe if we had the use of tasers the officer would not have been injured in any shape form or fashion, and probably the suspect would have been apprehended much easier," said Idalou Police Chief Brian Frieda about Friday's incident.

Each taser, with officer training, would cost about $1,500-$2,000.

Idalou isn't the only area agency wanting the devices. We spoke to about half a dozen rural departments including Shallowater, Crosbyton, Ralls and Lorenzo. All say it's just a matter of funding.

"You take out personnel expenses, and you take out fuel for the police cars and the police cars themselves, or whatever you have to pay on those, and we have $5,000-$8,000 a year to spend on other things like equipment and repair and maintenance, and things like that so $1,500-$2,000 would be a pretty big chunk," said Shallowater Police Chief Rock Knudsen.

Some departments have only one officer working per shift. And it takes additional time to get off-duty officers or sheriff's deputies to the scene. So tasers are greatly needed.

"I would rather have to tase somebody, than have to shoot somebody, even knowing that there is some risk knowing the person is going to die from it," Knudsen said.

Despite controversy, even the Department of Defense says taser devices remain among the safest and most effective use of force choices available.

4/25/06
Autopsy Report Says Multiple Factors Contributed to Nunez Death
The autopsy report is in and the results show a police taser was one of the contributing factors that lead to the death of a Lubbock man last week. NewsChannel 11's Cecelia Coy brings us the details of the report.

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