Taser training, policies

Officers with every law enforcement agency in Hancock County carry Tasers. As part of their use-of-force policies, departments lay out guidelines that govern how officers are trained with the weapons, when they should use them and what they must do after deploying the device.

A Daily Reporter review of each agency’s policy showed that, for the most part, officers from across the county are held to the same or similar standards. Here are some highlights of each department’s policy:

Greenfield Police Department: The department’s 42 full-time officers are told to only use their Tasers when they need physical force to protect themselves or others from an assault. Officers are taught to use their Tasers before using any physical take-down techniques. The department’s policy does not have recertification requirements.

Shirley Police Department: The department’s one full-time officer, one part-time officer and 10 reserve officers carry Tasers. They are taught to treat the device as a less-lethal weapon but not as a replacement for their firearm. Officers are recertified with the device annually, officials said.

New Palestine Police Department: The department’s five full-time officers, all of whom carry Tasers, must perform a weekly “spark test” to ensure their Taser is properly charged and functioning correctly. If the test reveals the Taser isn’t working properly, the officer must notify the chief. Annual recertification with the device is mandatory.

Fortville Police Department: Fortville has nine full-time officers who each have a Taser of their own. The department’s nine reserve officers sign out a Taser at the start of their shifts, then return it. Everyone must recertify with the device once a year. If an officer uses their Taser on a suspect, they must administer first aid immediately and get help from a fire department medic if necessary. If the suspect is taken to the Hancock County Jail, jail officers must be notified that the new inmate was shot with a Taser.

Cumberland Police Department: Fourteen full-time officers and six reserves in Cumberland carry Tasers and receive mandatory annual training with the device. Officers are taught to yell “Taser” at least twice in a loud and clear voice before firing to ensure everyone around knows the device is about to be fired.

McCordsville Police Department: The department’s 14 full-time officers and two reserve officers are equipped with Tasers. Officers train with the device annually, and they are taught not to use their Taser on women they know are pregnant; anyone covered in or near highly flammable liquids; anyone standing near a body of water; and anyone who could be badly injured if they fall after being hit with the device, like those standing on a roof or ladder.

Hancock County Sheriff’s Department: Thirty-eight of the sheriff’s department full-time deputies carry Tasers. Five of the devices are kept in the Hancock County Jail to be used should an inmate become uncooperative. Annual recertification is required for all officers. Whenever a Taser is used on a subject, whether on patrol or in the jail, officers must complete a use-of-force report before the end of their shift that demonstrates the circumstances of the incident and hand over any evidence from the scene.

Note: The Wilkinson Police Department utilizes the same use-of-force policy as the sheriff’s department.