Former Dassel police officer donates 11 tasers to county

December 24, 2007

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

Meeker County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Ho, a former Dassel part-time police officer, donated 11 tasers Tuesday to the county sheriff’s office.

Each taser is worth at least $1,000, Chief Deputy Jeff Norlin told the Meeker County Board of Commissioners.

Ho, who is also a medical doctor, had the tasers as part of a study on their effects on the body and long-term health. Ho received the tasers from the manufacturers for the study, he said.

Ho removed the cartridge containing the darts that emit the charge, and performed a demonstration of how the taser works by aiming it on the ceiling of the boardroom.

First, the taser shines a laser on the target. Then it emits a charge for five seconds, making contact with the suspect with two darts, one positively charged, and the other negatively charged. The entire incident is recorded in a camera in the bottom of the handle.

Ho said he has been tasered three times as part of the study, and it feels like a long five seconds.

The camera records the scene with infrared light, so even in the dark, the film can be used as evidence, Ho said.

All of the newer models of tasers have cameras in them. Of the 14 tasers Meeker County has, 11 of them contain cameras, Ho said.

The principle on which a taser works is different from the way a heart defibrillator works. It doesn’t “shock” the heart in the same wa, he said.

Since law enforcement has been using tasers instead of guns, injuries to police officers and suspects have dropped 50 to 70 percent, he added.

The county now has enough tasers for every deputy, Ho said.

In other law enforcement business, the county board approved having Lenora Kleinhuizen be the interim jail administrator for the next six weeks, while the current jail administrator, Joe Lenz, has surgery on his knee.

Odds and ends

In other business, the county board:

• directed Social Services Director Clark Gustafson to examine the department’s 2008 budget to see what could be used for the Litchfield Area Mentorship Program. The board heard a presentation from James Ellingson, president of LAMP, about how the program works. It is similar to Cokato Dassel Rotary’s Strive program, although Strive has more of an academic emphasis, Wilde said. LAMP, on the other hand, will take referrals from parents, school staff, court services, social services, public health, churches and medical/counseling centers.

• approved the 2008 county levy at $10,333,668, a 9.8 percent increase from the 2007 levy.

• adjusted non-contract and inter-agency elected officials’ salaries with a 3 percent increase. County commissioners will receive $1,767 per month in 2008. The probation director’s salary was raised 6 percent.

• discussed quotes for a new compact track loader for the highway department. The unit is similar to a skid loader with tracks, according to Highway Engineer Ron Mortensen.

Commissioner Dave Gabrielson said he wanted the Bobcat T300 from Farm-Rite Equipment Inc. of Dassel, because he is partial to Bobcats. However, the quote was not the lowest of the three. Also, all of the quotes included different equipment on the unit. The board decided not to make a decision until the quotes are reviewed by the county attorney.

• acknowledged the mileage reimbursement rate for the county will change Jan. 1 to 50.5 cents per mile from 48.5 cents. The board had decided April 17 to follow the guidelines set by the Internal Revenue Service.

• reappointed Lori Christofferson to the Minnesota Extension Service committee.