A taser is an electroshock rifle used to stop people in their tracks by stopping some muscle movement. Police officers say it is non-lethal.
TASER actually is an acronym for Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle. Smith was a fictional character who carried this type of instrument. Years later an inventor lifted the idea from the pages of the books about Swift's adventure and made them a reality.
The device is now a reality for the Dunbar Police Department. The entire department must be trained before they can use them. They are going through the process right now.
Dunbar's Police Chief tells WSAZ it's the perfect tool for an officer when he or she is out alone on a call. It allows them to force compliance in situations that can be difficult to handle.
Lieutenant James Agee from the St. Albans Police Department is training several different departments from around the state, including Dunbar. He says his department has used the taser about six times in the last eight months. He says it drastically cuts down the amount of time it takes to respond to certain kinds of calls.
"From a time factor, one woman was suicidal and had a knife to her throat. Instead of being there for two to three hours and putting officers at high risk.... the incident was over in a half hour or less."
Tasers do have critics. Some people say it can actually create irregular heart rhythms- which can be fatal. But Agee says reputable sources like the Cleveland Clinic have done studies confirming that the rifle is non-lethal.
Agee says the following departments have tasers:
St. Albans Police
Putnam County Sheriff's Department
Berkley County Sheriff's Department
Marshall County Sheriff's Department
Don't see your town on the list?
Email Amanda.Barren@wsaz.com to find out if or when your department will begin using this device.