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Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014

Scott County adds latest law enforcement tool to arsenal

Sunday, September 7, 2003

(Photo)
Scott County Sheriff Bill Ferrell demonstrates the contact "stun gun" capability of the M26 Taser.
BENTON - Jail inmates who refuse to comply with Scott County Sheriff's deputies and jailers may have a shock in store for them.

Scott County Sheriff Bill Ferrell, his officers and jail staff completed training last week with their latest inmate compliance and law enforcement tool, the Advanced M26 Taser.

"It's something to watch - its an amazing tool," Ferrell said.

Hailing the M26 Taser as the most effective tool in modern law enforcement available, Ferrell got the first three units for the jail so they can subdue the inmates without directly harming them or putting the jailers in personal danger.

Ferrell has since then ordered eight more tasers for use by his road deputies, who often have to wait extended periods of time for their backup to arrive and for bailiffs. "We're going to use it in court, too," Ferrell said.

Tasers have been in use for over 20 years by law enforcement, according to Ferrell, offering the ability to subdue non-compliant persons with no direct harmful effects or risk of permanent injury despite the use of an electrical charge. Earlier versions, however, weren't as effective, according to Ferrell, and had a range of only about six feet.

The M26 Taser features a range of up to 21 feet and has a laser sight. Cartridges which attach to the end of the taser's barrel fire a pair of a straightened number 8 fish hooks trailing wires back to the taser.

When they hit, the prongs deliver an electrical charge to override the target's motor and sensory systems. "It doesn't even need to stick to work," Ferrell said - it just needs to be within 2.5 inches of the target's skin and even works through body armor. "It'll stop a .45 but won't stop this," Ferrell said.

Once tased, if an assailant shows more aggressive behavior, he can be shocked additional times. "They're still hooked up to the wires," Ferrell said, "you just pull the trigger again."

M26 Taser stores data on up to 585 shots, recording the date and time they were fired so they can be downloaded into a computer. In cases when multiple tasers are fired, this data confirms "which one hit him, which didn't hit him," according to Ferrell.

Once the cartridge is fired, the M26 Taser's barrel end functions as a contact stun device.

Shaped roughly like a gun and colored a bright yellow, suspects are very likely to recognize the tool when they see it and know that as it is a non-lethal instrument, officers won't hesitate to pull the trigger.

The M26 Taser has already been used to defuse one situation at the jail. "We just showed it to them," Ferrell said. "We don't think we'll have to use it often."

The Sikeston Department of Public Safety has had M26 Tasers in service for about six months now, according to Chief Drew Juden. He estimated his department has had to tase about 30 people so far.

"It's one of the best tools I've seen in 25 years," Juden said. "The big thing is it's cut down on our officer injuries. By the time (subdued subjects) come back around they're in handcuffs and it's all over."

Juden predicted it will be "a great asset around the jail."

Ferrell expressed his appreciation for the training provided on the equipment to his officers by the Sikeston Department of Public Safety.