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MAYS LANDING – Atlantic County Sheriff Frank Balles announced Monday, Jan. 27 that his department has added conducted energy devices – more commonly called stun guns – to its crime-fighting arsenal.
The department purchased eight Taser X2 CEDs and has trained 20 officers to use them, he said. They will be employed in the eight sheriff's officer units on duty.
"I think this is a very good addition for our officers,” Balles said. “The information that we looked at indicated the Taser has saved more than 100,000 lives across the country when the CED was used instead of a gun.
“We feel it is a definite deterrent to crime."
He classified conducted energy devices as “enhanced mechanical force,” as opposed to pepper spray or a baton simple, which he provided as examples of simple mechanical force.
"What this does is add another level before the use of deadly force," Balles said.
A button on the side of the bright yellow gun allows the officer to show the arcing electric current prior to firing the CED. Balles said that lets the perpetrator know what the officer has, and helps them understand what the equipment is capable of doing.
“It definitely gets their attention," he said.
Balles said his department did quite a bit of research to decide which unit would be most beneficial for the department. The unit they chose has second-shot capability and is easily recharged, he said.
It also has a video component.
"When the unit is turned on, the video begins to record," Balles said. "It is tamper proof, so once the CED is drawn, everything that happens from there is recorded."
Balles said the department actually purchased the units a little more than two years ago when the state attorney general approved their use by sheriff's officers. The gap between the time of purchase until the officers were carrying them was to allow for educating and training.
The Atlantic County firearms instructor had to design the education to be put in place for all officers to take. The officers had to pass an online course and test created by the county firearms master and then a field test using the weapon. The 20 officers are certified in the use of the Taser.
Balles said he wanted to make sure that the officers who are using them are comfortable with the CED.