Dutch police try out Tasers in year-long trial
The Dutch police force has announced that they will be introducing electric Tasers in the future, starting off with a year-long trial that will take place throughout 2017 in three Dutch cities.
The year-long trial
300 police officers in Rotterdam, Zwolle and Amersfoort will undergo a two-day training course to be shown how to operate the Taser safely, and only upon successful completion will they be allowed to use it during their shifts.
More specifically, teams in Zwolle and Amersfoort will be given Tasers to patrol party districts in each city, for example. In Rotterdam, the Tasers will be used by officers with sniffer dogs who will work together throughout the city in search of suspects in hiding.
The testing phase will reveal whether there will be less violent confrontations between police officers and citizens.
Why pepper spray is not strong enough
Police claim that pepper spray is not always effective, particularly with people who are less sensitive to pain. Instead, they need a weapon that is a compromise between pepper spray or batons and a gun.
When dealing with aggressive subjects or suspects that are under the influence, Tasers are the more efficient means of gaining control over the situation.
The Taser model
After experimenting with various models, the chosen weapon was the Taser TX2; an electroshock weapon that has been used before by SWAT teams in the Netherlands. The weapon costs about 1.500 euros, and fires two darts, which stay connected via a wire.
How the Taser works
Here is a step by step breakdown of how the Taser works:
› The weapon is only effective when a suspect is a few meters away from the agent
› The agent uses laser lights built into the weapon to aim at two points on the body of the suspect
› Then the two darts are fired whilst remaining connected to the weapon with a wire
› These darts attach themselves to the skin or clothing of the suspect
› The suspect then gets a shock of 50.000 volts sent through him, instantly losing muscle control for a short period of time.
Risk of injury
According to Willem Woelders, Deputy Chief police officer of central Netherlands, the risks are minimal if the Taser is used correctly. He claims that research has proven this, even for those who have heart problems, for example.
Whilst there are always exceptions where violence is concerned, he believes the risk is acceptable considering the alternative solution.
In response, Amnesty International has stated that they are very much against the use of a Taser as a weapon, claiming that it poses a human rights issue.
They believe that Tasers are harmful to one's health. It remains a controversial topic, especially considering that there have been dozens of deaths caused by Tasers worldwide. Burns and heart attacks as a result of being stunned by a Taser are also a risk.
The extendable baton
The testing of Tasers was put on hold following a decision made in mid-2016, where the police decided to give agents extendable batons. The telescopic baton is applicable in more situations than the taser, the police said, not to mention cheaper.