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SAN ANTONIO — A new policy by Police Chief William McManus stops officers from using Tasers on anyone "known to be under the influence of drugs," limits the number of officers using the weapon against a person to one, and, increases the training time for officers to wield Tasers.
Effective immediately, McManus said officers are prohibited from using Tasers __ weapons that deliver shocks of enough voltage to disrupt a person's neuromuscular system __ if they have "firsthand knowledge" that someone is on drugs.
"You have to see them using (drugs)," said McManus in Tuesday's online edition of the San Antonio Express-News. The newspaper had published an investigation into how police have used the weapons since December 2006.
He said the new policy, issued Thursday in an internal bulletin, is in correlation to " excited delirium," a diagnosis described as an overdose of adrenaline to the heart and a possible cause of death among people who were shocked by Tasers.
"The research has connected excited delirium to deaths," McManus said, adding, "Excited delirium is a possibility when drugs are being used."
The policy does not limit the number of times an officer can shock someone, although it requires that police stop using the weapon when a person is in custody. The new policy requires officers who use Tasers to get 16 hours of training, doubling the requirement. The police chief is sending the 141 officers who already use the weapons back to the training academy for another eight hours of training.
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