An analysis of the use of Taser International stun guns by Madison, Wis., police is being lauded by the Scottsdale-based manufacturer following a series of negative stories about the company’s controversial weapon.
On Monday, the Madison Police Department reported its officers used the earlier M26 version and later the more powerful X26 stun gun 92 times between July 2003 and January 2005. The study’s conclusion:
"The Taser is extraordinarily effective in controlling resistive subjects, while also being extraordinarily safe . . . there is no question that both the number and severity of injuries (to both officers and suspects) would have been far higher but for the Taser."
Madison police first used the M26 stun gun in July 2003 and purchased 31 more the following year. Its officers used both weapons on suspects between the average ages of 19 and 43, with the youngest being 14 and the oldest 60, the report said.
Of the 92 uses, 71 were effective while 21 didn’t work for various reasons, including thick clothing, broken wires, missed shots and a malfunction, the report said.
"The Taser clearly has reduced the Madison Police Officers’ utilization of deadly force," the report stated.
Taser CEO Rick Smith said the police survey is one of a number of positive independent studies that "demonstrates the benefits of Taser technology."
"This report clearly illustrates the need by law enforcement for the life saving capabilities of Taser devices using actual field results," Smith said.
Taser has cited other reports it said showed the safety of the its weapons, but Taser’s interpretation of those studies later was challenged.
The Madison report comes on the heels of several recent developments, including:
• The Lucas County Sheriff’s office in Toledo, Ohio, suspending the use of Taser stun guns following the death of a suspect who had been shocked by the weapon by police and county sheriff’s deputies nine times.
• A reminder issued by the International Association of Police Chiefs to its 20,000 members, including East Valley police chiefs, of the protocol and procedures for using the stun gun.
The association also said it is preparing to join the Justice Department in a study of more than 80 deaths to determine the real or potential risks involved with using the Taser stun gun.
• The withholding of 100 Taser stun guns by Chicago police while they complete an investigation into the death of a 54-year-old man.
• The call by Amnesty International for the suspension of the use of stun guns until extensive medical studies can be made.
Taser stock dropped 16 cents Tuesday to close at $13.95 on the Nasdaq exchange.
The stun gun delivers 50,000 volts of electricity through two barbed darts at the end of a pair of 21-footlong wires.
The Madison Police Department report is available at www.madisonpolice.com.