Miami Springs may be one of the safest communities in Miami-Dade County for both residents and police officers, but the men and women in blue have to keep up with training. Over the years, the police department has learned that any crime that happens in the county can also happen here.
To maintain their skills, officers are regularly made aware of weapons updates and the SOP (standard operation procedure) detailing situations when it’s appropriate to use the Taser. Springs police officers go through regular handgun, rifle and shotgun training at the firing range in Medley and Taser training at the Miami Springs Optimist Club.
Last week, a squad of officers went through a half-day of training under the tutelage of certified Taser instructors: motorcycle officer Jeff Clark, Sgt. Jimmy Deal and K-9 officer Al Sandoval. Updating their Taser certifications were officers Carlos Nunez, Cheryl Mulet, Justin Robbins and Gary Fetters.
The Miami Springs department issued Tasers to all officers in 2005 and while some Miami Springs officers have never fired the weapon, others have used their Tasers several times. Unquestionably, the Taser has been effective at keeping officers from being hurt and preventing violent offenders from harming themselves or others. Almost all officers have drawn the weapon and had it ready under possibly dangerous situations.
The Taser is holstered on an officer’s service belt in a cross-draw position on the side opposite of the officer’s handgun. Among other things, training emphasizes the importance of drawing the right weapon during the heat of the moment.
The department-issued Tasers have laser sights, a light, audio recording and B&W infrared video cameras. The recording of each use is reviewed by supervisors to ensure that procedures were followed.
A Taser’s quick-change cartridge shoots two barbs connected to wires that deliver a 50,000-volt jolt to immobilize a potentially dangerous person. Officers learned that their current Tasers will be obsolete in the next couple of years and replaced with a new, improved model that will have a color camera, among other features.
First off in training was firing Tasers at paper targets. Unlike a gun that fires a bullet straight and true, hitting a subject with Taser barbs is difficult, especially if the target is moving. To be most effective, both barbs must impale the target and the spread of about 14 inches at a distance makes it difficult.
During the realistic scenario part of training, pairs of officers searched a darkened Optimist Club looking for an allegedly dangerous man: Officer Sandoval in a protective helmet and mask and thick canvas suit to take the brunt of the barbs.
“Officer safety is the No. 1 priority,” said Clark. “We have to keep our skills updated on everything we use. Over the years, Taser training has kept officers and citizens from being hurt or worse. It’s part of our job.”