OCEAN CITY – Individuals may want to think twice in the
future about being uncooperative or combative with resort officers or they
could be in for the shock of their life, literally.
At the town’s Police Commission meeting Tuesday afternoon,
Chief Bernadette DiPino discussed the upcoming experimental use of Tasers in
the fiscal year 2008 budget. According to DiPino, the $4,000 put aside for the
devices would allow officers an extra tool in subduing subjects who may cause
harm to officers in a physical altercation.
Tasers are not new to the market but have changed a bit
over the years. According to the Taser website, Taser.com, the Taser works by
“utilizing compressed nitrogen to project two small probes up to various ranges
of 15, 21, 25 or 35 feet at a speed of over 160 feet per second. These probes
are connected to the Taser device by insulated wire.”
It goes on to say, “An electrical signal is transmitted
through the wires to where the probes make contact with the body or clothing,
resulting in an immediate loss of the person’s neuromuscular control and the
ability to perform coordinated action for the duration of the impulse.”
Some think the Taser is a tool that simply electrocutes an
individual, although that may be true, it’s not entirely accurate. According to
the site, Tasers use Neuro-Muscular Incapacitation (NMI) technology to
temporarily override the nervous system, taking over muscular control, thus
temporarily debilitating a subject with minimal risk of injury.
As of now, when a subject becomes combative with officers
or is threatening the livelihood of someone else, they have to rely on pepper
spray and a baton, or worst-case scenarios, their handgun. However, pepper
spray is not always effective and the effects can incapacitate the subject for
up to an hour at times.
If an officer finds the use of a baton necessary, this
puts him or her in harm’s way and within reach of a subject that can be too
much to handle. Even with multiple officers, the chance for injury is still
With a Taser, a single officer can bring down a large
subject in seconds without causing harm to the subject or endangering his or
her own safety. DiPino went on to explain how officers in places such as
Baltimore County have embraced the new tool.
According Barry Neeb, community services coordinator for
the OCPD, Tasers are used in over 3,000 agencies nationwide because of the
simple fact that injuries among both criminals and officers declined, making
for a huge selling point.
Neeb continued, saying how the use of the Tasers in Ocean
City would be perfect for a variety of scenarios, especially in areas that
become crowded at times.
“You have to be careful about the type of enforcement you
use in these types of areas such as someone on the Boardwalk who might be
waving a knife around,” Neeb said. “A gun isn’t the smartest thing to use, but
you don’t want to risk your own life using pepper spray and a baton either. A
Taser is an immediate incapacitation without harming others.”
Three OCPD officers are slated to get official training in
the use of the Tasers in the near future, Need said, while the department
continues writing up a policy on the use of the tool, such as who it should be
used on and under what circumstances.
As for how the officers feel about the prospect of having
Tasers in their arsenal, Neeb said they have been asking for them for years
since it is such an effective tool.
Following the experimental
trial, DiPino said a review of the tool’s effectiveness would take place,
ultimately deciding whether or not it will have a future in Ocean City.
will try it and add it if it is effective,” Neeb said. “Any tool to keep
officers safe is a worthwhile tool.”