City police might get Tasers

A Minneapolis man died shortly after officers shocked him with a Taser earlier this month.

Bridget Haeg

New Minneapolis Police Chief Bill McManus was sworn in Tuesday, but he is already considering new policies – including equipping all officers with Tasers.

An alternative to firearms, Tasers can discharge a 50,000-volt, 26-watt shock for up to five seconds.

“Any time officers are able to reduce the amount of injury from the use of force and can still successfully control a situation, it’s a good thing,” University police Capt. Steve Johnson said.

Johnson said University police would like to use Tasers but have not yet found a way to pay for them.

While he was deputy chief of the city’s police department, University assistant vice president for public safety Greg Hestness started the program that allowed a special unit of Minneapolis police to use Tasers.

Some people have concerns about the weapon’s use, however.

Tom Johnson, client advocate for the Mental Health Association of Minnesota, said Tasers could negatively affect people taking medications, especially anti-psychotic prescription drugs.

He said some medications that cause high blood pressure could make a person more vulnerable to a Taser’s hazardous effects.

On Feb. 6, Minneapolis police used a Taser on Ray Siegler, a mentally disabled man, who was threatening fellow group home residents. Siegler went into cardiac arrest shortly after police shocked him. He died Thursday.

As of early last week, the cause of Siegler’s death had not been determined.

The Associated Press reported that the weapon’s manufacturer, Taser International, said the Taser will not cause a heart

attack.