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Tasers to protect Kittanning officers, chief says

Renatta Signorini
| Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kittanning police officers have a new tool to defend themselves against suspects who show signs of aggression.

Two Tasers will accompany on-duty officers and provide a new means of safety.

"Your muscles contract so hard that it's not a severe pain, but it's an unbearable situation," said officer Ken Bussard, who volunteered to test the devices during the department's training this month.

The Tasers were purchased for about $2,200 by Kittanning Crime Watch. The devices use an electrical current to disrupt a person's voluntary muscle control and would be used before pepper spray.

Officer injuries in recent incidents may have been prevented had the department been trained in using Tasers, Chief Ed Cassesse said. During a six-hour class last week, the department's eight officers learned how to load the device, how it functions and situations when it can be used.

For example, "when someone is overly aggressive toward an officer," that could be a situation where a Taser is used, Cassesse said.

"It's a deterrent," he said.

The devices will improve officer and suspect safety in the event they are used, and there have been situations when they would have come in handy in subduing a suspect, the officers agreed.

"You're not going to use it every day," Bussard said. "It incapacitates the individual it's being used on."

Cassesse demonstrated the Taser outside the department building. When fired, the gun-like device shoots out two probes similar to a fish hook that are attached by wires. An officer holds a button on the Taser for five seconds, Cassesse said, to transmit the electrical signal through the wires to the probes, which are fired into a suspect's skin.

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