Taser test: Dutch police used electric shock weapon 34 times in five months

Police. (Photo: Politie)

Police officers in Rotterdam, Amersfoort in Zwolle participating in an experiment in arming police officers with tasers, are satisfied with the weapon in general. Since the experiment was launched in February, the nearly 300 officers armed with electric shock weapons used the tasers on suspects 34 times and threatened them with it another 78 times, the police said in a statement on Tuesday. 

So far the police officers involved in the experiment drew the tasers in 112 cases. In the 34 times it was actually used on a suspect, it was fired from a distance 21 times and held against someone's skin the other 13 times. The experiment will run until February next year, after which it will be evaluated.

Tasers are intended to fill the gap between the police baton, pepper spray and firearm. Police officers on the street are increasingly faced with violence and therefore need to be armed with something that can be used more effectively than pepper spray, but is less drastic than pulling a gun. "It is a means of violence that can be applied to bring about the least possible damage to the person involved', a police spokesperson said to AD. "A dog causes more damage."

The taser fires two small darts that are connected to the weapon with electrical wire. It shocks the target for five seconds at 0.004 ampere, causing very temporary paralysis, making a suspect easy to overpower, according to the newspaper. The weapon has a range of between 4 and 7 meters.

Most of the police officers involved in the experiment seem to be generally pleased with the taser. Officer Ricardo of the canine unit used his taser three times over the past months. "Once I fired it on a boy with a knife threatening to commit suicide. Every time my colleagues and I came closer, he also threatened us. When I got the chance, I tasered him and we could get him under control. I'm glad I had the electric shock weapon then. Otherwise I may have had to shoot him and cause him permanent injury. You don't send a service dog on someone with a knife", he said in the police statement.

Officer Ricardo is happy with the taser as an addition to his existing equipment. "In each violent situation, I again consider which weapon to use. The electric shock weapon is very effective. It would be nice if it was added to our equipment."

So far only one person complained after coming face to face with a cop and a taser. A man from Amersfoort after being tasered by a police officer.