Bevill State Police Chief J.C. Poe said the school had been fortunate that there had been no incidents on any of its campuses that required any use of force yet, but this would give officers a safer option for control, if the need should arise.
“We’ve never had anything happen, but other schools have had incidents involving lethal force, where less than lethal force would have been adequate, if it had been available to them,” Poe said. “We wanted our officers to have that other choice if it fits the situation.”
Although Poe declined to discuss specific incidences that have occurred at other schools, the highly-publicized shooting of a University of South Alabama freshman last year drew attention to the need for campus law enforcement officers to have a choice. In the incident, a freshman took off his clothes and began acting erratic, eventually threatening a campus police officer and was shot. The officer publicly said he could not subdue the student, who was a wrestler, by hand and the only other option available to him was his gun.
Monday will be the final certification class to get all 25 Bevill State officers certified to use the tasers. The officers then have to recertify each year to continue to carry the device.
Taser Electric Control Devices use nitrogen to deploy two small probes connected to the gun with wires that conduct electricity. The interchangeable cartridges are available in a variety of lengths for effective deployment from various distances.
The electric charge is designed to stimulate the muscles as well as sensory and motor functions to cause incapacitation, but do not interrupt the heart or other vital organs.
Tasers have been proven safe by numerous studies conducted by a variety of sources. They have also been shown to reduce police liability in use-of-force complaints because it reduces injuries and records facts about its usage that can be used in court.
Tasers are currently used in more than 100 countries by more than 16,000 law enforcement agencies and more than 543,000 units have been sold to law enforcement agencies since February 1998.