Stuart, Fla. Police Arsenal Expands With Tasers
Non-Lethal Devices Should Prove Quite A Shock To Area Troublemakers
By Gabriel Margasak, The Stuart News (Stuart, Fla.)
STUART, Fla. As painful as his primal, muscle-tensing scream
sounded, Stuart police Sgt. Marty Jacobson swore it didn't hurt.
Stuart, Fla. Police sergeant Marty Jacobson is
incapacitated after being hit in the back with a M26 Taser, and is
held up by canine officer Eric Schaubel, left, and master officer
Brian Huffman. Jacobson's body went limp after he volunteered to be
hit in the back with the new weapon. The Stuart Police Department has
purchased 27 of the weapons, and officers took a 4 hour class on how
to safely use it. (Photo: Steven R. Martine, The Stuart News)
But for five seconds, he couldn't do much but scream as two metal
barbs from a Taser gun shocked him into submission yet left
him feeling just fine seconds later.
That's how some city officers plan to subdue combative suspects as Stuart police began issuing the non-lethal
weapons. Several hours of training Monday night marked the start of
an effort billed to make law enforcement safer for police and
"We felt it was something that could reduce not only injuries to
officers but to citizens as well," said Stuart Police Chief Edward
While police shootings in the city and Martin County are rare,
officers and sheriff's deputies say physical fights with suspects are
"It gives the officer another option rather than fighting the
suspect," Morley said.
Morley said the technology only recently became readily available,
leading to the decision to buy 27 Tasers at about $800 a piece, or a
total of $21,600.
So far, training Officer Dan Pantel said Stuart police have used
the weapon once to capture a fleeing suspect without inflicting
"Throughout Florida, it has dropped officers' injuries and
suspects' injuries 80 percent," he said, citing statistics from the
company that manufactures the Taser. "That's incredible."
And, he said, the weapons are safe, even recording every firing so
police supervisors can track each gun's use.
"It didn't hurt. I was trying to fight it but I couldn't,"
Jacobson said after his test, showing two puncture marks on his back
that looked like bee stings. He said he could feel the stings
afterwards but they weren't painful.
Jacobson said the Taser had an advantage over the commonly used
pepper-type spray because it only affects the intended target, not
everyone in the area.
With the new Tasers, city police joined other area law enforcement
agencies that already have the devices or are planning for them as
The Martin County Sheriff's Office is working to outfit its entire
force with the devices after a two-year test proved successful,
sheriff's officials said.
"Right now, if a deputy has a Taser on his or her belt, a lot of
the people who used to resist us . . . once they see the weapon they
become completely compliant," said Deputy Dennis Root, the sheriff's
use of force training specialist.
"Guys who used to run from us turn around and say, 'Just don't tase me.'"
During the two years, Root said the six test Tasers were used 30
times throughout the county.
Of those, they were fired and shocked suspects 18 times. In 12
cases, just the display of the device was enough make the suspects
"immediately" comply, Root said.
Root said the agency is working to buy about 230 Tasers an
investment of about $205,000 for the actual devices plus more money
For Jacobson, the experience of getting hit could be shaken off
quickly, but the thought of increased safety stuck.
"Hopefully, it will induce cooperation more quickly without the
officer or suspect getting hurt," he said.