Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Crime-Fighting Tool Atlantic Beach Police Will Be Issued Tasers

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Crime-Fighting Tool Atlantic Beach Police Will Be Issued Tasers

Article excerpt

Byline: Christopher F. Aguilar, Shorelines staff writer

Inside the Atlantic Beach City Commission chambers Wednesday, police Officer Victor Raynor got shocked with 26 watts of electricity.

He cringed with pain as an instructor fired two electrified metal probes into his back with a stun gun.

Raynor's body stiffened up. He lost control of his muscle movements and he quickly fell to the ground.

Two of his fellow officers helped him as his body hit the floor.

Raynor experienced first-hand the effectiveness of the M-26 taser, a non-lethal weapon that the police department has acquired for its officers. Wednesday's demonstration was part of the training session that all of the city's officers must go through before operating the taser.

The taser, which looks like a handgun, fires two metal tips that are like straightened fish hooks. The hooks, or "probes," are attached to the taser with wires that can extend up to 21 feet. The hooks latch to suspects' skin or clothes, then emit a five-second charge that causes an uncontrollable contraction of muscle tissue. That gives the officer time to handcuff the suspect.

After the demonstration, Raynor said the taser was effective because it provided a combination of physical and psychological pain.

"It feels like your muscles are over-stimulated," he said.

The M-26 taser works by overriding the central nervous system, causing uncontrollable contractions of the muscle tissue. The weapon was introduced in 1999.

Atlantic Beach, which has 26 sworn officers, is the first police department in Duval County to issue the tasers to all of its officers.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office SWAT teams use the taser, as do the Nassau and Clay counties sheriff's departments, said Russel Stender, president of Jacksonville-based DGG Taser.

In December, the Atlantic Beach Commission approved spending $28,000 for 30 tasers, holsters, replacement cartridges and accessories. Each taser costs $499.

Police Chief David Thompson said that by next week, each of his officers will be issued a taser.

"A number of our officers have responded positively," Thompson said. …

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