Zap: County police have a 50,000 volt reminder not to break law

Curry County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Sandy Loomis demonstrates the X26 Taser gun Wednesday at the sheriff’s office. (Photo: Eric Kluth)

By Mike Linn: CNJ News Editor

About a month and a half ago a Curry County sheriff’s deputy was placing a suspect into custody when somebody began charging toward him and threatening his life.

The man had his hand behind his back as if he had a gun, but before he got within eight feet of the officer he was dropped to the ground and immobilized.

The officer didn’t use his pistol to drop the suspect, but a Taser X26, a new instrument championed for its ability to immobilize crime suspects without serious injury from within 21 feet. Loomis said the voltage causes no damage to the body. The probes, however, could cause light bleeding, as if the suspect was being poked by a small needle.

Had it not been for the Taser X26, “there is no doubt the suspect would have been dead,” said Sandy Loomis, an investigator with the Curry County Sheriff’s Department.
The laser-guided Taser shoots two probes attached to hair-thin copper wire that stick into a suspect like hooks in a fish, then sends about 50,000 volts of electricity through the body and disables a suspect’s ability to move body parts for five seconds.

After five seconds the suspect is back to normal. However, if he tries to get back up and fight or run the officer can send another shock through the suspect’s body.

“It’s one of the best things that’s hit the pike in a long time,” Loomis said. “I know personally I’ve deployed this (X26) five times and it’s most effective.”

The Taser X26 is a smaller and more sophisticated version of the M26 Taser, which according to Loomis caused problems for law enforcement officers because of its size and the loss of about 90 percent of its power when the probes went through a suspect’s clothes.

Curry County Sheriff Roger Hatcher liked the newer model so much that in March he bought an $800 Taser X26 for each of his 13 employees and one for himself.

Since then, Hatcher says the new Taser has done wonders for his officers, who can make arrests of aggressive suspects without using weapons like steel batons or guns.
Still, Hatcher said the Taser will not replace an officer’s pistol and should not be used if a suspect has a weapon in hand.

“They’re an excellent tool — one for the public because it gives an option we never had before, and also for the officer so that we don’t have to go to deadly force hopefully as quickly …” Hatcher said.

Loomis said the new Taser is also good for immobilizing a few rowdy inmates in a pod of many. In the past, jail officers would use pepper spray, which would essentially punish the entire pod, not just the rowdy inmates.

Loomis said one inmate who he subdued with a X26 Taser during a recent arrest now refers to it as the “jalapeno gun.”
Besides the county sheriff’s department and jail, the Parmer County Sheriff’s Department, the Parmer County jail and law enforcement agencies in Albuquerque use the newer model.

Local law enforcement officials say officials with the Clovis Police Department are also interested in purchasing a batch of the newer model Tasers.