“It doesn’t change what I do daily,” says Jim Harvey, a response officer based in Kirkcaldy.
You may have seen some police on the streets of the Kingdom with a bright yellow taser holstered in their belt.
The new devices were rolled out on June 1, and Jim is helping to train other officers.
“I still interact with the same people and do the same checks I always did,” says Jim. “It’s just another piece of tactical equipment.”
The taser is a last resort, but Jim is clear on the benefits: “We’re now facing more people coming with blunt objects, so the fact that it’s a distance weapon means it can save us, or members of the public from being hurt.”
In fact, sometimes NOT using the taser can calm things in a tense situation.
Jim explains: “You can just put the red dots on them. It may be enough to get them to stop what they’re doing.
“There’s the arc across the front, which shows the electrical current going through it. It shows them how it works, and by communicating how the barbs will go where the dots are, the electricity they see will pass through their body, and it could be enough to get them to stop what they’re doing, bringing a safe resolution. The last resort would be pulling the trigger.”
But police on the beat won’t all be carrying tasers as standard. Officers must apply to become carriers.
Jim says: “They have to pass a written exam, their fitness test, the qualifying shoot, and also pass some scenarios as well. We push them as hard as we can to see what decisions they’re going to make.”
So what can those on the wrong end of a taser expect?
The brief experience has been described in the past as like someone firing thousands of sharp nails at your whole body, while your head often remains clear.
But Jim says the effects are short-lived: “It goes to the large muscle groups and puts them into spasm. Most of the time they’ll fall to the floor. Then you’ll be looking to let them know what’s happened. Sometimes loss of memory can be a problem, they can’t remember it actually happening to them. So you’re giving that aftercare and first aid if needed.”
Jim adds: “If anyone wants to know more about it just go speak to an officer who has one, because they’ve been through the training and they have the knowledge. There’s no better person to ask than someone’s who’s actually carrying it.”