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A New Weapon in Tulare County Sheriff's Deputies Arsenal

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

More than one hundred South Valley deputies will soon be equipped with a taser that records video and audio. Within weeks, all Tulare County Sheriff's deputies on patrol, in the gang unit and the S.T.E.P. Team will be equipped with a new taser that can stop someone in their tracks, as well as record video and audio for up to an hour and a half. Deputies say this new taser can turn a scary situation into a safe one.

The X26 Taser can fire up to 50,000 volts of electricity. Sgt. Gordon O'Rafferty was tased with one during training. He says, "It's quite painful. It left burn marks to some degree on my shoulder a little bit when I went through it."

Courthouse deputies have already been equipped with the X26 because of their constant close contact with the public and inmates.

Sgt. O'Rafferty says, "There could be problems with the public. We get very upset people with cases and whatnot and it's a way of handling the situation without trying to harm someone."

From domestic violence calls to high speed chases, the Sheriff's office says officers on patrol and on the gang and tactical teams will find the taser useful every day.

Captain David Williams says, "Typically, the most injuries that occur to officers, non life-threatening injuries, are a result of having to take suspects physically into custody or to fend off attacks to themselves or the citizens.

Right by the taser's handle is a small video camera which starts recording as soon as the weapon is switched on. The Sheriff's department says the recordings could help in the prosecution of criminals, as well as protect officers accused of using excessive force.

Captain Williams says, "A big part of law enforcement is documentation of what happens. This is just another opportunity to show that this tool was used properly."

Once it's activated, the taser can incapacitate someone for five seconds. Sgt. O'Rafferty says, "You're just totally locked up. Your system is just completely out of whack. You're not able to do anything until the weapon goes off."

Those five seconds could be enough time to detain someone who could have harmed an officer or innocent person.

Tulare County paid about $220,000 for the taser equipment. Once the video and audio is recorded, it can be uploaded onto a computer.

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