OCEAN CITY — A crowded room of councilmen and police officials all sat seemingly frozen during a Taser demonstration on Wednesday, and the visual aide might have been enough to rekindle the conversation about bringing the devices to town.
The Ocean City Police Department seems keen on adding Tasers to the weapons belts of at least a few of its officers at some point in the future, but the idea has been nothing more than a conversation in the past year.
In fact, the last time Tasers were spoken about publicly in Ocean City, the Mayor and City Council passed an ordinance that would make it illegal for any civilian to carry or own one of the devices in hopes that it would ensure public safety as a result of a state law which allowed civilians to carry such devices.
The law, however, did have an essential loophole written into it, which would allow local municipalities to pass more stringent rules concerning Tasers, and Ocean City was one of the first in the state to pass a more strict law, essentially banning them from civilian usage within the city’s limits.
Yet, on Wednesday, as a Baltimore County police representative gave a demonstration of how Tasers could be beneficial in ensuring public safety at the Police Commission meeting, it appeared to catch the interest of at least Councilmen and commission members Lloyd Martin, Jim Hall and Doug Cymek, sparking a conversation weighing the pros and cons of having them in the resort.
Although there have been debates and even incidents where suspects who have been shot by a Taser have perished, the device is deemed to be one of the most effective non-lethal devices used by law enforcement today.
“No weapon is 100 percent non-lethal, as you could use a flashlight and technically kill someone,” said Major Mark Warren of the Baltimore County Police Department. “In the Attorney General’s report on Tasers, it noted that the device has never once been the sole cause of death and in most cases, it had to do with the amount of drugs in a suspects body or a prior heart condition.”
Warren demonstrated the usage of the Taser X26 device on a shooting target, and seemingly everyone in the room jumped when the weapon was discharged, sending two essential fish-hooks into the target attached to electronic wires that served as the conduits to the electrical currents being pulsed from the device in five-second increments.
Currently, over 11,000 law enforcement agencies worldwide carry Tasers in some capacity, yet only 3,500 have full officer deployment of them.
Yet, whether Ocean City could be added to that list, even on a small level (the department has expressed interest in acquiring up to six devices), remains to be anything more than a conversation or a proverbial wish list item as of press time.