Taser Training Puts The Stress On Tulsa Reserve Deputies

Friday, May 15th 2015, 6:16 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz says reserve deputies will not be able to come back to work until they show all their training records and complete new taser training.

The sheriff bought the training package eight months ago and is now using it as part of its annual gun training that takes place each spring.

The idea of this training is to put officers in high-stress situations. They are interacting with what's basically a video game on steroids. Not only to they interact, but then in that critical moment, they must choose whether to pull their Taser or their gun.

"Drop the knife," Tulsa County Sheriff's Deputy Tim Wilkens said.

Wilkens' scenario is a suicidal woman with a knife and once she starts to cut herself, he tasers her.

After each scenario, his instructor ,Sergeant Mark Stevens, goes over the decision and policy.

"Why did you not pull your firearm?" Stevens said.

"I felt I had a reactionary gap and didn't feel I was threatened at the time," Wilkens said.

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Stevens said in most cases, commands do the trick, but deputies need to know which weapon to pick and how to transfer from one to the other.

"If you have to transfer to a firearm, you drop the Taser. You don't re-holster it; you drop it and go to your gun," he said. "You can't drop a gun and go to a Taser, but you can drop a Taser and go to a gun."

Now, it's my turn. I have a domestic scenario where the woman is beat up, and there's a child on the couch.

Lori Fullbright: "Oh, you need to put down your knife, Sir, put down your knife."

Because he keeps coming at me, I Taser him but, I made the wrong choice, and it could've cost me my life.

"Here's the problem. You brought a Taser to a knife fight. You should've pulled your gun," Stevens said.

Lori Fullbright: "Sir, I need to see your hands; let me see your hands."

This time, I initially pull my Taser, then the suspect runs out of sight and you can see my moment of indecision as I reach for my gun but don't grab it. He doesn't have a weapon, but he threatens to attack me and comes out me, so I taser him.

Even with this training, it's hard to simulate the true life or death feel that happens during real police work which is why they do even more.

Every deputy and eventually every reserve deputy must complete this training, and they'll also be put through high-stress role playing scenarios where they have to make the same types of decisions.