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Tasers give juice to Newark law enforcement
Police say device will prevent injury to officers, suspects
February 24, 2005

Advocate Reporter

(Kevin Graff, The Advocate)

Newark Police officers Al Shaffer, left, and Darrin Logan, right, hold Tim Fleming as he takes a hit from a Taser during a demonstration Wednesday. Newark officers now carry Tasers on patrol.







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 the back.

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 Taser.

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 delivered.

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