September 26, 2013

Maine sheriff to be shot with Taser at open house

By KAITLIN SCHROEDER Morning Sentinel

FARMINGTON — If you see the Franklin County sheriff being shocked with a stun gun by his second-in-command next week, don't be alarmed.

Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols

Staff photo by David Leaming

Sheriff Scott Nichols said the demonstration will be part of a department open house next week.

Nichols said in order to be authorized to carry a stun gun, law enforcement officers need first to be shocked by the equipment.

"You're not allowed to have one unless you take a hit from it first, and I'm the only one who has not done it," he said.

The hand-held weapons deliver up to a 50,000-volt shock of electricity from more than 15 feet away, according to the company that manufactures a well-known version of the product, Taser International. The gun fires probes that can penetrate clothing and stuns a person by causing an uncontrollable contraction of the muscles.

As the department's leader, Nichols said it is important for him to go through the process. Also, the public will get to see how the law enforcement tool works, he said.

Nichols said he hopes the demonstration will draw a crowd to his first department open house, which is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Nichols took office in January.

The event also will give the public a chance to see the new communications center, view equipment used by the department and meet deputies.

"They'll get a chance to meet the people that work for them," he said.

In what is normally a private event, a swearing-in ceremony for sheriff's deputies, who must be sworn in again, also will be part of the public event.

After the deputies are sworn in, Nichols said, they will line their cruisers up for the department leadership to inspect. He said the public is invited to follow behind during the inspection so they can meet the deputies and see the cruisers.

Construction of the communications center is complete, and Nichols said the center is expected to be operational after the state installs the 911 system in December or January.

The rain date for the open house is Oct. 5.

The Taser was designed in 1969 by Arizona inventor Jack Cover. He named it for the teenage science-fiction character Tom Swift, according to the company.

Taser is an acronym for Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle, from the Tom Swift series of children's novels written in the early 20th century, which included "Tom Swift and his Electric Rifle."

Kaitlin Schroeder can be contacted at 861-9252 or at:

kschroeder@mainetoday.com

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