NEWARK -- "I don't want to do this," Newark police officer Tim Fleming
whispered to fellow officers Wednesday.
Seconds later, he was shot in the back with a Taser -- a non-lethal, yet
controversial, weapon that delivers an incapacitating 50,000-volt shock to
the target. After a couple moments of painful squirming and required bracing
from other officers, Fleming received a round of applause and some pats on
Fleming was the reluctant target the Newark Police Department used for a
public demonstration of the Taser.
Every Newark patrol officer now carries a Taser, and money has been
allocated in this year's budget so all uniformed officers will soon have
one, city Safety Director Kathleen Barch said. Since they hit the streets on
Feb. 1, the department has only fired the weapon two times and drawn it from
holsters about 12 times.
Newark now joins the Licking County Sheriff's Office, Granville Police
Department, Pataskala Police Department and the Granville post of the Ohio
Highway Patrol as Licking County law enforcement agencies that employ the
When an officer pulls the trigger on a Taser, two darts with thin wires
are shot at the target and a powerful shock incapacitates the suspect. As
long as the darts are in the subject, additional five-second jolts can be
More than 130,000 Tasers have been sold to 7,000 agencies nationwide by
Phoenix-based Taser International. The increasing popularity of the Taser
has not come without controversy or protest.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Justice
Department are set to study more than 80 deaths to assess the risks in using
the weapons, the groups said Tuesday.
The action comes as civil rights groups and some police agencies have
questioned the use of Tasers.
Newark Police Chief H. Darrel Pennington said the weapon is effective and
far safer than its predecessors, including the sap and nightstick.
"We're pretty convinced this is a good weapon to have our officers use.
Less people are getting injured," he said, later adding, "With the proper
use ... this is a very effective weapon."
Wire reports contributed to this story.
Erik Johns can be reached at (740) 328-8543 or