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Eagan PD Citizen's Academy: Brave Volunteers Get Tased

Many of those participating in this year's Citizen's Academy experience what it's like to be tased.

Editor's Note: In this weekly column, I am going to write about what I've learned each week at the academy. Some of the topics that will be covered in this column and at the Citizen's Academy is identity theft, homicide investigation, self defense, and there will also be ridealongs with officers, a Taser demo and an opportunity to participate in a service weapons shoot. The Citizen's Academy is held every Thursday at the Eagan Police Department from 6:30-9:30 p.m.

Members of the Eagan Police Department's Citizen’s Academy were given the opportunity to to be tased Thursday evening.

The option was an unforgettable one, for many, and most of the class chose to give it a try. I, on the other hand, was too terrified to give it a shot (even with all the peer pressure), however, I sort of wish I had. Just a little.

Patrol Sgt. Rich Evans gave the class a brief presentation on Tasers, including what kinds the department uses today, the proper way to use a Taser, some statistics (Tasers are 99.9 percent effective) and that although being tased with 50,000 volts of electricity sounds terrifying – it is actually the amperage that matters. The higher the amperage, the more damage it will cause.

“[In a Taser], it has just enough amperage to send signals through to amp up your nervous system,” Evans said.

Evans also informed the class that, to his knowledge, when someone dies after being tased it is not the actual Taser that caused the death, but factors leading up to the death (including chronic/toxic drug use and health-related issues, such as obesity/poor cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, pre-existing heart conditions...etc).

“Tasers are not the perfect tool, but it allows us to make an apprehension,” Evans said.

During the Taser demo, Evans took volunteers from the class and had them sit on the floor and link arms. He put one wire on the first person’s foot (their sock, to be exact) and then put the other wire on the last person’s foot (or sock). With the volunteers linking arms, electricity is still able to pass through (see what happens in the attached video).

Eagan City Councilwoman Cyndee Fields’ son, 24-year-old Sam Fields, volunteered to be tased all alone. Evans attached one of the Taser’s wires under Sam’s sock on his foot and under his shirt on his neck. For 2.5 seconds, Sam felt the same electricity move through him that a suspect or criminal would feel. When officers use the Taser on a suspect or someone causing a problem that warrants the use of a Taser, it lasts for five seconds.

Feel free to check out the Tasing Demo video I attached with this story and see the volunteers get tased! I think you’ll find it interesting (and maybe a little funny…)

Joe Knutson March 26, 2011 at 05:53 PM
"Evans also informed the class that, to his knowledge, when someone dies after being tased it is not the actual Taser that caused the death, but factors leading up to the death (including chronic/toxic drug use and health-related issues, such as obesity/poor cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, pre-existing heart conditions...etc)." I don't doubt that's usually the case, but I think people should know that, under MN law, if any one of the rest of us outside law-enforcement tased or injured someone and they subsequently died because of "other factors" we would still be put on trial for murder even if we had no way of knowing those factors. That's a key issue in justifying the use of force in self-defense and, when turned around, it provides an interesting perspective on the issue of police taser deaths.

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