The electric Taser gun used by the Honolulu Police Department fires two electrically charged hook-like probes. Officers will now use it with a new nonflammable pepper spray.

Fire risk prompts
pepper spray switch

HPD wants to avoid setting
people ablaze with Taser
stun guns

Honolulu police officers who carry the new nonlethal Taser guns can no longer carry the department's alcohol-based pepper spray because the combination of the two could set someone on fire.

Instead, police carrying the electrically charged Tasers will carry a nonflammable pepper spray made by the same company that provided the original pepper spray, Aerko International. The switch comes from a warning by Taser International, which says on its Web site that "The advanced Taser should never be used on anyone who has been sprayed with an alcohol-based chemical spray -- including some alcohol-based pepper sprays -- which could ignite."

"I don't believe they've ever had a situation like that, they're just being cautious," said Maj. Mike Tamashiro, head of training at the police academy. "You'd really have to soak the person in the spray, use up the whole container, then use the Taser.

"To have a situation like that is very, very remote."

Still, Tamashiro said HPD has begun outfitting officers who are carrying the Tasers with new pepper spray. The Tasers were scheduled to be distributed among 70 qualified officers in police District 1, which covers an area from Liliha to Punahou streets and from Round Top Drive to Ala Moana Beach, and evaluate their use over six months.

"The reason for the D-1 area is because that's where we have a high number of incidents involving use of force against officers," Tamashiro said. "Particularly at night."

"Other departments across the nation just carry the Taser and their firearm and have taken pepper spray and even their baton out of the loop ... but we want to be able to give our officers more options."

Tamashiro said the new pepper spray works the same, by dilating capillaries and causing temporary blindness, along with causing the inflammation of breathing tissues, forcing people to double over and cough uncontrollably. The M26 Advanced Taser police will be using sends two hooklike probes attached to monofilament lines, which can deliver a 50,000-volt charge, incapacitating a suspect for five to 10 seconds by briefly overriding the central nervous system.

Part of qualifying officers to carry either item includes having to endure being sprayed and Tasered themselves.

"Everyone that's carrying the Taser has been hit with it," Tamashiro said. "And everybody from the chief down has taken the pepper spray in the face."

Taser International Inc.
Honolulu Police Department


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