Reports of alleged abuses of electronic stun guns across the country have prompted several police departments in the Des Moines area to reach an agreement on how they’ll use the devices. Des Moines police spokesman Todd Dykstra says the agreement requires officers to get approval from a supervisor before stunning someone — and sets guidelines for their use. He says they will not be used on young children, the elderly, women who’re known to be pregnant, people with heart ailments or pacemakers unless the officer’s life is threatened. And they will not be used on people who’re “exhibiting passive resistance.” Sergeant Dykstra says all the departments are currently using the stun guns, and each department already had their own guidelines. But he says the policy is not a reaction to something that went wrong. He says he doesn’t’ think there are any problems, but these are common sense guidelines. He says these guidelines are similar to ones the departments developed for handling high-speed chases. West Des Moines Police Chief Jack O’Donnell says they often have cases where something starts in one city and ends in another. O’Donnell says they want to be sure that all departments work together when that happens. He says sometimes if you had conflicting policies it made law enforcement not as professional as they could be. He says part of the process is also providing education on what the stun guns are. The devices deliver an electric shock that makes the recipient lose control of their muscles so officers can take them into custody. Major Craig Zubrod of the Des Moines Police Department says the stun guns are an important tool. He says, “It’s a very good product, it works good, it’s safe. It’s something that we really need.” But he says the manufacturers were setting policies for how cops could use the devices, and he says the departments wanted to set their own policies. Zubrod says the policy is an important way for the departments to cooperate. He says they understand that each department has their own way of doing things, but he says they just wanted some general guidelines that everyone could agree on. He says that also lets the public know they’re taking it seriously. Officers in Des Monies that use the stun guns are required to be stunned themselves so they know how the weapon works. The other departments involved in the policy are: Altoona, Ankeny, Carlisle, Clive, Indianola, Johnston, Norwalk, Pleasant Hill, Urbandale, the Polk and Warren County Sheriffs departments.
You are here: / / Stun gun abuse brings new guidelines