The Lake City Police Department has upgraded one of its weapons.
It says the upgrades will keep officers and the community safer. The department went from using the X26 Taser, used by many law enforcement agencies across the country, to the newer X2 version.
Officers told Action News Jax the new gear will also increase transparency.
Action News Jax got a demonstration of the X2 Taser. Lake City Police recently upgraded to the digital X2 after its analog X26 tasers reached the end of their life cycle.
Sgt. Marshall Sova is responsible for training officers on the Tasers. He said the biggest change is that an officer can fire two cartridges back to back with the X2 without having to stop and reload, as with the X26. Sgt. “You can shoot the same person twice, or you can shoot two different targets at separate times,” Sova said.
The X2, which was unveiled in 2011, is a part of the Axon company’s smart Taser technology. It comes with dual lasers for more accuracy and a built in “warning arc” that suspects can see and hear.
Sgt. Sova said that feature has helped diffuse situations without officers to shoot the Tasers.
“First thing they do is back up and say, 'Please don’t shoot me,'” Sova said.
The safety of Tasers has been called into question over the years. According to a recent Reuters investigation, the X26, which hit the market in 2003 as the company’s most powerful stun gun, posed a “higher cardiac risk” than other models. The company stopped selling the X26 in the U.S. and Canada in 2014.
We combed through the Action News Jax archives and found video of former Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford taking a shot from the X26, during a Taser demonstration in 2005.
Action News Jax spoke with Axon spokesperson Steve Tuttle, who said he disagrees with the Reuters report. He said, when used properly, their Axon's products are safe.
Tuttle said the company has focused on improving technology, safety and effectiveness over the years.
For example, Tuttle said, the X2 that Lake City officers are using can regulate the amount of charge it delivers and adjusts to make sure the charge is not too high or too low.
The department also purchased new cameras to go along with the upgraded Tasers, giving officers multiple layers of transparency, including the view from their dash cameras, the view from their body cameras and the footage recorded on the Taser cameras.
“It all deals with safety and transparency,” Sova said. “We’re just out there to assist the public and make sure they’re safe and make sure officers are safe on the street.”
Several local agencies have phased out the X26 Taser or are in the process of doing so. Both the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Officer have upgraded to a different Axon smart Taser called the X26P.
Tuttle insisted that all Axon products are safe when used properly. You can read Axon’s statements on the safety of their tasers here.
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