Sioux Falls, SD
In September, Minnehaha County Sheriff's deputies will arm themselves with tasers. The deputies have spent this week practicing with the devices, which are new to Minnehaha County. They have practiced on each other, and test dummies. Captain Jim Hoekman remembers how it felt to be tased.
"The five seconds seemed like 20 seconds," Hoekman said.
Hoekman said the taser will make it impossible for the suspect to resist arrest or fight back.
"What it does is it incapacitates you, because it makes your larger muscle groups contract," Hoekman said.
The tasers have two barbs that are connected to wires, which come from a cartridge loaded into the gun. The barbs go into the suspect's skin, and deliver 50,000 volts of electricity. That sounds like a lot, but Hoekman said the force of, or amperage, is actually lower than a Christmas tree light bulb.
"People who are exposed, it does not cause serious injury to them. They bounce back immediately after the taser shuts off," Hoekman said.
The deputies have spent all week learning not only how to shoot the tasers, but when to shoot them.
"Somebody who is combative, you know, and is involved in a very serious crime. Instead of putting hands on somebody fighting them," Sgt. Pete Jaros said.
Deputies will not use the devices on certain suspects, including pregnant women or people with certain medical conditions. Though tasers are new to Minnehaha County, Hoekman says research has shown they've been effective tools in agencies all over the country.
"Just the officer having the taser, not even deploying the taser has cut down on the resisting toward officers, and has cut down the amount of suspect injury down substantially and officer-involved injury substantially," Hoekman said.
"It's just another tool that we can carry to help save lives. Keep people from getting injured -- both the offender and ourselves," Jaros.
Hoekman said the more than 30 tasers cost about $43,000. Half of that money comes from the state, the other half comes from the County. Sioux Falls' Police Department has $120,000 in its proposed 2015 budget to purchase tasers. If the City Council approves, police may start using the tasers in the spring, at the earliest.