Press-Republican

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June 30, 2013

Tasers 'a useful tool,' police say

Officers describe sensation of current as unforgettable

PLATTSBURGH — When Plattsburgh City Police Officer Levi Ritter was shot with a Taser during training, he gasped for air.

“You can’t breathe,” he said. “It feels like your body is tensing up. What I felt also was the pulsing of the electricity.”

He called the effect “completely incapacitating.”

Afterward, Ritter felt as though he had done a strenuous weight-training workout.

“Your muscles are just exhausted in five seconds.”

‘USEFUL TOOL’

A number of police departments in this area make use of Tasers, including Plattsburgh City Police Department, the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department, the Malone Village Police Department and the Ticonderoga Police Department.

“It’s a useful tool,” said Sgt. Kevin Riley, the Taser instructor at Plattsburgh City Police Department. “Is this the cure-all? No.”

Taser refers to its product as a “conducted electrical weapon.”

“It’s a painful experience that causes the exposed portion of the body to experience an involuntarily reaction where you cannot control the muscles in the (affected) area,” said Sgt. William Dominy of the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department.

“A common misconception in the public that a Taser is an end-all, be-all, and that simply is not the case,” he said. “A Taser is not a replacement for deadly physical force.”

However, Dominy said, Tasers are invaluable to law enforcement.

“It’s a great tool that has been around for a very long time. It’s tried and true. It’s gone through multiple medical reviews, as well as legal reviews, and it’s found to be a proper use of force, typically, when it’s deployed.”

TRAINED TROOPERS

Only 212 Taser units are in use statewide by the State Police, said Darcy Wells, director of public information for the New York State Police.

“Hundreds of troopers are trained and are qualified to carry them. But all members will eventually be trained,” said Wells, who said she was not permitted to release how many troopers are in Troop B.

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