A new non-lethal weapon that is now available to Warrensburg Police Officers was demonstrated Monday night.

Warrensburg Police Chief Rick Lockhart volunteered to be a test subject at a City Council meeting, flanked by officers who hooked up the bright yellow device, held by his wife Laura, who also volunteered her services for the demonstration.

After giving a verbal warning of “taser, taser, taser,” Laura pulled the trigger and Chief Lockhart immediately tensed up as electricity surged through his body for a full five seconds.

“It seemed like 30,” commented the police chief afterward.

The public demonstration was designed to show what it looks like when someone is tasered, and to also show that a taser is an effective, but harmless use of force option, according to Chief Lockhart.

“So we're able to use this to get people under control who are out of control in a way that saves them from getting hurt, saves the officer from getting hurt, and keeps everyone safe,” Lockhard commented.

Warrensburg Council approved the purchase of 11 tasers in June. “When I was in Kansas City, we had it, and I saw over and over how it saved lives, and so that was one of my priorities to try and get that done while I was here,” the police chief told KSIS.

Developing a policy concerning the use of tasers by the Warrensburg PD will require input from the Council and the community, he noted, adding that his day shift has already been trained, and over the next two weeks, the entire taser program will be rolled out.
The average taser, or “conducted electronic weapon,” delivers about 1,200 volts to a human body. In Lockhart's case, there was a black mat on the floor to catch him if he fell, but officers on each side helped him remain fairly vertical through the brief ordeal. He was alert, speaking and laughing right after the taser was shut off.

The new proposed policy meets the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies standard and was taken from several different agencies. The policy was reviewed by the city counselor and the police department members were given an opportunity to provide input.

The policy is available for review online at:

http://www.warrensburg-mo.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/1995?fileID=3705
According to Amnesty International, Taser shocks may be implicated in the deaths of more than 150 people since 2001, and coroners have cited stun-gun shocks as a factor in more than 20 deaths over that period.

Researchers who Tasered anesthetized pigs have found little permanent damage, and there’s not much evidence that the shocks would be fatal for healthy adults. Victims who are intoxicated or have pre-existing heart conditions may be at greater risk, the study said.

Repeated shocks from a Taser may also be more dangerous, it was noted. Most stun guns use a 9-volt battery or several AA batteries as a power source.

--In the top photo, Warrensburg Police Chief Rich Lockhart speaks with Council member Bryan Jacobs after Monday night's City Council meeting in which Lockhart agreed to demonstrate one of the the WPD's new Taser units.