JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In 2005, when JSO started using tasers, Sheriff John Rutherford endured the blast of a stun gun. The sheriff was trying to show two things: a Taser will immobilize you and it is a non-lethal weapon.
"We are very cautious in everything we do when it comes to response to resistance and our use of force with anything," said Michele Remolde.
Remolde is JSO's Director of Professional Standards. She says her department follows a strict policy for the use of a Taser.
"In looking at this study as well as other studies ... and in looking at our policy it appears we are in good shape," she said.
Remolde says the article by Dr. Douglas Zipe is insufficient.
"If you look at the end of the study, it actually stipulates that they not against Taser use," she said, "they just prefer there are certain rules in using the ECD (Taser)."
Jacksonville Beach Police began using Tasers ten years ago. Sergeant Tom Bingham said the program is successful and there's no reason to change.
"We've been extremely satisfied with the Tasers. We haven't had any significant injuries nor complications as result of using the Taser," said Bingham.
Green Acres Sporting Goods sells tasers or stun guns. Phillip Gazaleh said customers are more concerned about their personal safety than an assailant's health.
Gazaleh has his doubts about a Taser causing cardiac arrest.
"Anything can kill people. For it to be the main factor I would say it is one in a million," he said.
Gazaleh said he prefers a gun over a taser. In his words, guns are a more effective way of personal protection.
"The biggest reason why people would turn to a Taser over a gun is the fear of a gun," said Gazaleh.
He said he's trying to turn it around by conducting weapons classes on Saturday and Sunday.
We tried to reach the American Heart Association for comment on the Zipe's article but got no response.
Taser International, the largest maker of Tasers, had a sharp response to the article.
"The Zipes article is not a position paper of the American Heart Association," said Steve Tuttle.
"The article is clearly self-serving as Dr. Zipe's primary interest in this area is being a plaintiff's expert witness who has been paid $1,200 per hour," said Tuttle.
He added, "to testify against police and TASER."
Tuttle said the U.S. Department of Justice's independent study concluded there's no medical evidence that Tasers pose a significant risk for induced cardiac dysrhythmia when deployed reasonably.
"There have been 3 million uses of TASER device uses worldwide with this case series reporting 8 of concern," said Tuttle, "This article does not support a cause-effect association and fails to accurately evaluate the risks versus the benefits of the thousands of lives saved by police with TASER devices."
First Coast News