JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska State Troopers are investigating allegations that a village public safety officer in Kake used a stun gun or Taser on two boys.
Terrie Ward, mother of the 11-year-old boy, said they asked the officer in December to use the weapon on them because they were curious about what it feels like. Ward said she and her husband were out of town at the time, while their children were staying at their grandparent’s house.
“They were talking about being tased, and my son did ask to be tased, and he tasered him on his arm or wrist,” she said.
However, Ward said she isn’t sure if the weapon was a stun gun, which produces an electrical shock when placed against skin, or a Taser, which shoots barbs that attach to skin to deliver a disabling shock. The Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska is the tribal government that employs village public safety officers in Kake. It is also investigating the incident.
Village public safety officers aren’t police or troopers, but citizens who are trained to be first responders to emergencies such as fires and search-and-rescues and to handle other basic law enforcement tasks. Alaska began using the program in the 1970s because it can take days for authorities to respond to emergencies in rural communities that can’t afford full-time officers.
The public safety officers have been allowed to carry Tasers since at least 2007. The officers may use them “in accordance with their training and the specifics of the situation,” said troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters. Former Gov. Sean Parnell signed a bill last year that will allow village public safety officers to carry a firearm.
The allegations demonstrate the sometimes strained relationship between the village public safety officers in small rural villages and its residents, Juneau Empire reported Sunday.
Kake is about 100 miles south of Juneau. It has about 600 year-round residents, mostly Alaska Natives. There are two village public safety officers in Kake, where its police department closed in 2009.
Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com