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National Park Rangers Find Tasers Efficient Tools In Potentially Combative Situations


Tasers are proving to be effective law enforcement tools in the National Park System.

Rangers at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area were just the latest in the National Park System to resort to the use of a Taser stun gun to resolve a potentially combative situation.

Back on March 27th the Kane County (Utah) Sheriff's Office requested help from the rangers in dealing with a 23-year-old man armed with a sword. The man, who had been arguing with his father, was holding a three-and-a-half foot long katana-style sword, also known as a Samurai sword.

According to Glen Canyon NRA officials, the man threatened both the rangers and a Big Water, Arizona, marshal. The man was ordered to put the sword down, but refused to do so. The rangers and marshal negotiated with him and he eventually dropped the blade, then turned and began to walk away, ignoring commands from the rangers to stop.

According to officials, the man then reached toward an obvious bulge in his right front pocket. While one ranger provided cover with his rifle, a second employed his Taser to incapacitate the man, who was then taken into custody by the Kane County sheriff.

A subsequent search revealed that the bulge was a 5-inch-long, fixed-blade hunting knife.

This use of a Taser marked the third time a life has been saved in a potentially lethal confrontation in the past seven months by NPS rangers. Previously, rangers from Mammoth Cave National Park used a Taser against a knife-wielding man, and a New River Gorge National River ranger used a Taser to keep a woman from jumping off the New River Gorge Bridge.

The Park Service defines a “life saved” incident as any incident in which a Taser is used to prevent someone from taking his/her own life or the life of another or when deadly force by an officer would otherwise be justified.

It was back in 2001 when rangers at several parks began carrying Tasers as alternate intermediate weapons. These parks had great success with Tasers, which immediately reduced the number of injuries to both protection rangers and those they were confronting.

By 2006, about 20 parks were using Tasers. In September of that year, a national "electronic control devise" policy was adopted following a Washington office review to ensure consistency in policy throughout the NPS. Since that time, the number of parks with ECD programs has risen to 115, with about 1,100 trained users.


Great article. The technology to resolve a potentially life threatening situation with less than lethal force is a step in the right direction.

Great with tasers killing people all over the country why not in the national parks too! Yogi and boo boo packing electrical heat I FEEL SO SECURE.

Tasers are very dangerous and overused. Ive had friends who were tased without warning in protest situations, and they can do some real damage. At least with a gun, the law enforcement officer thinks twice before doing it.

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World

As the original story confirms, a taser is a valuable tool that provides an alternative to a firearm.

Yes, it has to be used correctly, and use of a taser occasionally has unintended consequences - but the odds of both the ranger and the subject surviving the incident are much higher than if a firearm were used.

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