Police, Sheriff’s Department to host 2 informational sessions on Tasers

Thursday, July 31, 2008 | 6:00 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Police Department and the Boone County Sheriff's Department will host two informational sessions next week in an effort to educate the public on how Tasers work and "why they're a good idea," a Thursday morning news release from the Columbia Police Department said. The sessions are expected to last at least two hours each.

The certified Taser instructors leading the sessions will explain the police department's Taser usage policy and attempt to cover all of the technical details of the Taser, with the possibility of a Q-and-A session at the end, Columbia police Capt. Stephen Monticelli said.

The instructors will "play videos to show how they work, but we're not going to demonstrate the Taser in actuality," Monticelli said. "They're going to go over all of the specifics so everybody has a common understanding."

The goal of both sessions is to "provide the public the most accurate baseline" for deciding whether the department's Taser training is adequate, and for forming opinions about their "implementation of this controversial yet vital less-lethal weapons platform," the release said.

"We want them to get the real facts and not what some individuals are reciting," Monticelli said.

Monticelli said that he does not think there were any plans to hold such an event before July 25, when police used a Taser on Phillip Lee McDuffy, who was threatening to jump off the overpass at Providence and Interstate 70. Sgt. Dan Beckman fired the first Taser. One of the weapon's barbs missed, thus failing to incapacitate McDuffy, who then ran 20 feet back toward the center of the bridge before being hit by a shot from Officer Sean Dutton's Taser. McDuffy collapsed and grabbed the fence before falling about 15 feet to the underlying embankment. He broke his arms and his jaw, and fractured his orbital bone.


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