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Jacksonville police suspend Taser use

Associated Press
Published February 24, 2005

JACKSONVILLE - Reacting to several deaths in Florida and nationwide, Jacksonville's sheriff has ordered officers to put away their Taser stun guns until a new training program and use policy can be devised.

Sheriff John Rutherford said Tuesday he still thinks Tasers are a safe, nonlethal way to subdue struggling suspects who might otherwise be shot, but he wants his officers trained on how to deal with any medical emergencies the stun guns may cause.

A Taser jolts the body with 50,000 volts of electricity, temporarily incapacitating the person. But about 100 people have died nationally since 1999 after being shocked by Tasers, including recent deaths in Pensacola, Hollywood, Naples and Delray Beach. Many who died were drug users.

Jacksonville began arming some patrol officers with Tasers last month. The department had purchased 1,800 Tasers at a cost of $2-million and planned to give them to more officers over the next year, including those assigned to schools. That led to complaints from parents.

Miami-Dade police announced a revision in their stun gun policy last month after officers used them on a 6-year-old boy in a school office and a 12-year-old female truant who was running from an officer.

Miami-Dade officers must now consider a suspect's age, size and perceived fighting ability before using a Taser.

[Last modified February 24, 2005, 01:04:45]

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