By Paul Kurtz

BLACKWOOD, N.J. (CBS) — Law enforcement and government officials in New Jersey were getting acquainted today with the Taser gun as they begin the process of rolling out the weapon to police officers throughout the state.

For today’s seminar in Camden County, Rick Smith, co-founder and CEO of Taser International, travelled all the way from his headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz. to personally demonstrate the 50,000-volt stun gun and lead a seminar on how and when to use the weapon.

New Jersey recently became the last state in the nation to approve the use of the controversial weapon that, according to Amnesty International, has killed hundreds of people either during their arrest or while in jail.

But Thomas Garrity, chief investigator of the Camden County prosecutor’s office (right), says the Taser is a far safer alternative to pulling out a gun: 

(Thomas Garrity) (credit: KYW's Paul Kurtz)


“I think once we vet through the myths and misinformation, I think the general public will realize this is a valuable tool that is really going to help officers do their job and prevent the loss of life.”

Smith says his company is constantly improving the weapon’s safety features.

“We’ve added all sorts of accountability technology,” he tells KYW Newsradio.  “We’ve added things like a tracking device, so every time a trigger’s pulled we can record just when the trigger is pulled, how many times, how long it was held down, how much electricity was developed.”

In addition, all Tasers in NJ will be equipped with a tiny video camera to capture every incidence of their use.