Officials with Iowa’s prison system are seeking to arm community based corrections officers with TASERs. There are more than two dozen officers in the state who serve on “warrant teams” – monitoring offenders who are out on probation or parole.
Kip Shanks, director of the Iowa Department of Corrections’ Fourth Judicial District, says those officers are currently armed with batons, pepper spray, and a firearm. He wants to supply them with TASERs in hopes it’ll prevent confrontations with offenders who can turn violent.
“They’re dealing with the most difficult, violent offenders that we have on the streets these days and I think we need to provide them with every possible tool we have available to make sure they’re safe and the offenders are safe,” Shanks says. Officers who are armed with TASERs are required to be “tased” themselves as part of the training.
Shanks says that training teaches officers they should only use a TASER when absolutely necessary. “They know how serious it is and how painful it is,” Shanks says. “A lot of (officers who’ve gone through the training) say if they had to (be tased) annually, they don’t know if they’d want to do it again.” TASERs cost about $1,500 each.
At a meeting earlier this month, a majority of the members of the Iowa Board of Corrections indicated they would support a TASER program for the warrant teams.