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Los Angeles Police to Test Tasers With Longer Range

Officials approved arming several hundred officers in Hollywood and South L.A. with new tasers that have more than double the range as their old models, an upgrade they hope will help prevent officers from using guns.

(TNS) — The Los Angeles Police Commission this week approved arming several hundred officers in Hollywood and South L.A. with new Tasers that have more than double the range as their old models, an upgrade they hope will help prevent officers from resorting to using their guns in encounters with combative people.

The test pilot for the Taser 10 approved Tuesday, Sept. 12 will run for one year starting in late October. LAPD will deploy 200 Tasers each to the Hollywood, Central, Southeast and 77th Street stations. Officers already trained on the old Tasers will get two hours of additional training on the new devices.

LAPD's previous model, the Taser 7, fired two barbs attached by electric wires to the weapon itself, allowing officers to deliver an electric shock to a person with a pull of the trigger. That weapon had a range of 22 feet, said LAPD Deputy Chief Marc Reina.

The new Tasers fire 10 barbs up to 45 feet, which officers can activate depending on which barbs have actually attached.

Reina said the intent behind the Taser upgrades was "to decrease the intensity of encounters where there's the potential for use of force."

"We believe (the new Tasers) should have a substantial impact on an officer's ability to use de-escalation principles, such as time, distance and cover," Reina told the commission.

The 800 Tasers, produced by Axon Technologies, will cost $3 million.

Tasers are one of LAPD officers most commonly used less-lethal weapons. In 2022, officers activated their Tasers 432 times across 200 incidents according to the department's annual use-of-force report, which also showed officers found the devices only worked slightly more than half of the time they were used.

While they are intended to deliver a non-fatal electric shock, some people who have been shot with a Taser have died.

In January, Keenan Anderson, a 31-year-old teacher from Washington, D.C., died several hours after LAPD officers stopped him for a suspected hit-and-run, activating a Taser on him six times after they chased him down then held him on the ground.

The L.A. County coroner's office determined an enlarged heart and cocaine use contributed to Anderson's death. The office did not rule his death a homicide, leaving it undetermined.

Anderson's family filed a claim against the city the same month as his death. The claim is a precursor to a lawsuit. In announcing the claim, the family's attorney, Carl Anderson, said police should have been aware that after shocking him repeatedly, "moments later his heart would begin to flutter."

In stopping Anderson, the officer who shocked him used a technique police call a "drive stun," in which they place the Taser directly against a person's skin, then fire.

After Anderson's death, LAPD banned the technique. On Tuesday, Chief Michel Moore likened the technique to touching someone with a spark plug.

"It is extremely painful," he said.

Moore said LAPD was aware that shocking someone with a Taser might not bring them down immediately, a situation that could lead to death if officers continue to shock the person. He said LAPD had found that some people hit with the device, who might be under the influence of a drugs or alcohol, or experiencing a mental health crisis, only get more agitated.

"They find that they can take the pain and try to fight through it," Moore said. "That can increase their aggravation, increase their exertion, and create health consequences for the individual...that's not the scenario we want."

© 2023 Press-Telegram, Long Beach, Calif. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.