Police officers in New Jersey are getting trained to use stun guns as the state — the last in the nation to allow police to use them — tries to catch up with the rest of the U.S.
Training for officers has been held this week in Camden County for officers from Gloucester Township and Cherry Hill.
State Division of Criminal Justice spokesman Peter Aseltine said police trainers across the state have taken classes this year on how to instruct officers to use the weapons, which some people fear could cause harm if used incorrectly.
The state is not tracking how many departments have ordered the stun guns or trained officers to use them.
Though stun guns have been used elsewhere for years, they’re new for police in New Jersey.
Stun guns are shaped like pistols and work by firing wired barbs that stick into a person’s body and deliver an immobilizing shock.
The state decided in 2010 to allow them — and then only with restrictions. It took until nearly a year ago for the state to determine that two models of the Taser brand stun guns could be used.
Under state regulations, officers can use stun guns only to prevent a suspect from causing harm to the officer, another person or a suspect. The guns must be equipped with a camera so their use can be reviewed.
And officers are not permitted to stun anyone who offers passive resistance, as protesters often do. They’re also receiving training on how to recognize mental illness and deal with emotionally disturbed people.
In the training session this week in Sicklerville, officers were being told to yell “Taser! Taser! Taser!” before firing the stun barbs.
New Jersey officers selected by their departments to carry the stun guns will have to requalify every six months.