Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., police say that since the department gave all of its officers Tasers, fewer officers and suspects have been injured, the Charlotte Observer reports. Police say the electric-shock devices give officers alternatives to the potentially fatal use of guns, irritating pepper spray, or bone-breaking batons. Officers’ injuries dropped 56 percent, from 94 injuries in 2002 to 41 in 2004. Suspects’ injuries dropped 79 percent, from 200 to 42.
Police began using the controversial devices to subdue suspects on a trial basis in 2002, then phased in the weapon to the rest of the department. By 2004, all officers carried the weapon alongside handguns and pepper spray. During the year they used the Tasers 122 times on suspects ranging from 14 to 60. “The key thing is, it really does reinforce the value of that equipment to officers on the street,” said Police Chief Darrel Stephens. “It’s reinforced what we believed all along, that it is significant in reducing injuries to officers.” Amnesty International has called for a temporary moratorium on Taser use, citing 103 deaths after their use in the U.S. and Canada.