Dutch police to be equipped with tasers

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Dutch police officers (Stock Photo: Politie). Dutch police officers (Stock Photo: Politie)

The Dutch police are launching an experiment next week in which police officers in Rotterdam, Zwolle and Amersfoort will be equipped with tasers. In the coming weeks over 300 officers will undergo a two day training course on how to use a taser safely, and will then be allowed to use the weapon on the street if necessary, NOS reports.

According to the police, officers need a weapon that is more powerful than pepper spray or a baton, but less severe than a gun or police dog. "The taser is an excellent way to bridge this gap", Wllem Woelderes of the police unit Midden-Nederland said to the broadcaster. According to him, the taser can be used when dealing with who are aggressive or suspects who are too under the influence to feel the effects of a baton or pepper spray. "Now a number of colleagues have to dive in to get the situation under control. Soon you can use a taser and there will be no need for heavy force"

The police assembled a number of teams to test the use of a taser. In Zwolle and Amersfoort the teams consist of normal police officers, who will take tasers along when patrolling the party districts in the city, for example. In Rotterdam dog handlers will use the weapon - they work throughout the region, specifically searching for hiding suspects. Later this year arrest units will also be equipped with tasers. 

Amnesty International is against the use of a taser as a police weapon. According to the human rights organization, the taser can be harmful to health and dozens of deaths have been recorded as caused by a taser around the world. There is also a risk of burns or a heart attack when a taser is used on someone. 

But according to Woelders, these risks are minimal when the taser is used correctly. "International research that there is basically no risk with a taser, even if you have heart problems or have a pacemaker. You never have 100 percent guarantee with violence, but we think that the risk is acceptable, especially when you consider the alternative: the firearm."

The experiment will run for one year in Rotterdam, Amersfoort and Zwolle, after which it will be evaluated. If it is successful, more police officers will be equipped with tasers. Each taser costs about 1,500 euros. 

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