Delaney approves UPD Taser use


UPD officers began carrying Tasers April 1 in an attempt to better equip officers to handle aggressive incidents on campus.

A UPD officer’s arsenal, which includes an expandable steel baton, pepper spray and a Glock .40 caliber pistol, will now include the M26 model Taser gun.

President John Delaney approved the decision a few months ago when Chief John Dean presented the idea to Delaney after doing extensive research on the weapon. Delaney said in an e-mail the financial cost for the weapons was reasonable. Delaney also said if the protocols for Taser use are disliked, then they will be changed or the Tasers will be sent back.

“This is something we’ve been looking at for years,” Dean said. “It’s something we’ve done our homework on … to make sure it would be appropriate for this campus.”

The Taser UPD will be using has two prongs that impale a suspect up to a quarter of an inch and unleash a five-second electrical shock that causes a suspect’s muscles to lock up. The weapon has a range of 35 feet.

The gun contains a data chip that records the date and time of each use of the weapon — information UPD uses in the general offense report the officer writes after the incident.

Dean said the Tasers are not intended to be used for intimidation purposes and to make sure this doesn’t occur, Taser use will be monitored not only through the data chip inside the gun but also through follow-up police reports.

The decision to allow Tasers came as a response to an increase in violent incidents and nonstudents on campus, Dean said.

Dean said UPD officers will use Tasers only in situations where a suspect becomes aggressive while resisting arrest. Dean defined aggressive behavior as physically trying to repel an officer’s efforts to arrest.

Plus, peppy pray does not affect some people, thus Tasers act as a more reliable means to subdue a suspect, Dean said.

All UPD officers attended a mandatory, eight-hour training program to learn how and when to use a Taser. The officers were not required to get Tased themselves but were encouraged to understand its effects on the body, Dean said.

UNF will be the eighth university in Florida to carry Tasers as a “less lethal force option,” Dean said.

Dean said he feels the weapon is the best option and is coming to UNF at the right time.

“I’ve got two sons that are grown and one that’s not,” he said. “If the police had to get into a confrontation with them, I would rather the police Tase them.”