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December 14, 2001

Geoffroy recommends tasers

by Steve Sullivan
President Gregory Geoffroy will recommend that department of public safety officers be allowed to carry tasers.

Geoffroy's recommendation will be forwarded to the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, for consideration at its next meeting. University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa officials also are considering the use of tasers on their campuses.

Geoffroy made his decision after receiving input from individual members of the Iowa State community and various campus groups, including the Government of the Student Body and the Faculty Senate.

"I greatly appreciate the comments received from students, faculty and staff. This input was vital in making the best decision for Iowa State," Geoffroy said. "My final recommendation is based on a belief that allowing Iowa State public safety officers to carry tasers will significantly enhance the safety of everyone on the Iowa State campus, especially our students."

How this taser works
The air taser is manufactured by Taser International of Scottsdale, Ariz. The device uses compressed nitrogen to shoot two small probes up to 21 feet. The probes are connected to the taser by insulated wire. When the probes contact the target, the air taser transmits electrical pulses along the wires and into the body of the target, through up to two inches of clothing. The result is an instant loss of neuromuscular control and ability to perform any coordinated action. The effect lasts anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes.

According to the manufacturer, police departments at eight universities are using the air taser. Hundreds of city, county and state law enforcement agencies also use them and airlines are equipping flight crews with tasers.

Geoffroy also will recommend that DPS's "law enforcement division" be renamed "police division" and its public safety officers be called police officers. The name change was endorsed by the Faculty Senate at its Dec. 11 meeting.

If the recommendations receive regents approval, Iowa State public safety officers could begin carrying tasers sometime next semester. Officers would go through extensive training on the use of tasers and receive retraining at least every two years. The training includes a written examination, a functional test and a firing test.

All DPS officers are state-certified peace officers.

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