Tasers could soon become standard equipment for Chicago Police beat cops as a “less than lethal” alternative to guns, but a Cook County study has found the electric-shock weapons can trigger heart rhythm problems and even death, says the Chicago Sun-Times. The city is seeking bids for 2,500 tasers, far beyond the 350 now in use by the department. The department may put cameras on Tasers to record how the weapon was used. Tasers are not cheap. Some departments have spent as much as $1,000 per weapon. The pistol-like weapons expel two darts connected to 35-foot-long wires. The barbs deliver an immobilizing 50,000-volt shock.
Dr. Andrew Dennis, a Stroger Hospital trauma surgeon and part-time Des Plaines police officer, warned that Tasers can kill. He was part of a team that studied pigs over the last two years. In one test, 11 pigs were hit with 40-second electrical bursts. After a 10-second delay, they were zapped again for 40 seconds. The bursts caused “significant rhythm problems,” and two pigs died of ventricular fibrillation, Dennis said. A Taser International spokesman said the firm questions the way the study was conducted and pointed to other studies on humans that did not find a link between Tasers and heart problems. Dennis questioned the studies cited by Taser.