Salt Lake City Police Department Begins to Use New, More Accurate Tasers

The new stun guns also have more cartridges and fire at a longer range.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) The AXON Taser 10 acquired by the Salt Lake City Police Department has been redesigned to be more accurate, have more shot and fire at a longer range, as seen on June 22, 2023 during a demonstration was seen at the Public Safety Building in Salt Lake City.

New tasers demonstrated to Salt Lake City police on Thursday give officers more options to use less-than-lethal force during confrontations, officials say.

The Updated stun guns and other new devices were demonstrated at an Axon Roadshow event in front of the Public Safety Building. Axon – formerly known as TASER International – develops public safety equipment such as police cameras and management systems that store digital evidence.

SLCPD already uses Axon’s body cameras and an earlier version of the company’s Taser, but will soon switch to the modified Taser 10 device for officers, Lt. Gordon Worsencroft said.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) From left, AXON Master Instructor Dick Murdock and Salt Lake City Police Lt. Gordon Worsencroft view the placement of Worsenfroft’s Taser cartridges, June 22, 2023, during a demonstration at the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building .

The department’s current stun guns each contain two cartridges, with two “probes” per shot. When an officer fires his taser, both probes fire simultaneously and both must make contact with a person in order to send an electric current through their body.

However, aiming both probes at the same time can be difficult, and with the current model, officers have only two options for making non-lethal contact.

“If it was winter and everyone was layered, we would have this problem — we would use the taser, it would get stuck between the first layer of clothing and never make skin contact,” Worsencroft said. “These new… [Axon] showed us examples of how they redesigned that. And they let people come out in heavier clothes — winter clothes — and make contact with the skin.”

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) A spent Taser probe cartridge from the AXON Taser 10, on June 22, 2023. The model has been redesigned to be more accurate, have more cartridges and fire at a longer range.

The new Taser 10 will hold 10 rounds and fire one probe per shot. This allows officers to be more precise when firing the stun gun, Axon Master Sergeant Dick Murdock said during a training demonstration, and gives officers more chances to subdue a target before potentially resorting to deadly force.

The older Taser’s range was also limited to about 25 feet; The Taser 10’s range is up to 45 feet, Worsencroft said.

Axon also unveiled new, larger drones at the event that can help with accident reconstruction – speeding up traffic investigations by creating a 3D scan of the scene of the accident so roads can be reopened more quickly. According to Axon roadshow coordinator Mitchell Hackett, the company does not manufacture drones itself, but develops software for drones in cooperation with drone manufacturer DJI.

A smaller drone demonstrated Thursday, which does not require a pilot’s license to operate, has thermal imaging capabilities and can be used by firefighters to pinpoint the hot spot of building fires, Hackett said.

It’s unclear if SLCPD plans to acquire the new drone technology. Worsencroft said the department currently uses drones for patrol and SWAT operations, but they are not Axon models.

“They’re really leading the way when it comes to innovation and what we can use that stuff for,” Worsencroft said.

Justin Scaccy

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