LAKEWOOD, Wash. - Cops and guns - they've been a combination throughout the history of law enforcement.
You don t want to take someone's life unless you absolutely have to, said Officer Tom Arnold of the Lakewood Police Department.
But with deadly force used only as a last resort, police are constantly testing less-than-lethal weapons that can be used to stop perpetrators without putting officers at risk. Over the years, this has included everything from tasers and pepper spray to bean bag guns and net guns, which recall visions of Spiderman when they are launched.
One of the newest and most unusual less-than-lethal weapons to hit the market is the Dazer Laser. It s a powerful laser gun that can temporarily blind and disorient a suspect with a large modulating pool of green light.
If you can impair their vision where they can t effectively target or locate you, you're controlling them, you have those couple seconds you need, which in law enforcement is a year, said Ryan Battis, who demonstrates the weapons to police departments for Laser Energetics, Inc. of New Jersey.
The Dazer Laser is being pitched to police across the Northwest as a safe alternative to tasers, which can cause burns, or pepper spray, which has to be deployed at close range.
Officer Arnold likes the idea of carrying a laser because it would be easy to deploy and require minimal training.
It's not hard to aim a light at somebody. We all carry flashlights, we all know what lasers are, Arnold said.
The promoters claim the lasers are effective day or night, and are designed to be effective anywhere from 3 feet to a mile-and-a-half away from a suspect - without causing eye damage.
The first one thousand Dazer Lasers will be rolling off assembly lines in Charlotte, North Carolina within 30 days. The manufacturer says police, SWAT teams, prisons and military units in the U.S. and across the globe are ready to deploy them.
Unlike tasers, the Dazer Laser is not being sold to the public. They require a security code to activate and can be programmed to turn off after a set period of time to prevent abuse if they fall into the wrong hands.