When a riot erupted in March 2010 at the King County Jail in downtown Seattle, corrections officers confronted the disturbance with pepper spray and physical force.
Ultimately, Seattle police and a sheriff’s SWAT team were called in to help restore order, but not before windows were smashed, metal doors were damaged and toilets were flooded. Fifteen inmates were accused of participating and damage was estimated at nearly $13,000.
Starting Wednesday, some corrections officers at the county’s jails will begin carrying Tasers to help prevent similar situations, said King County Jail Cmdr. William Hayes. County corrections officers do not carry handguns.
“It’s something the department has wanted to implement for years because it’s a nonlethal way to control inmates,” Hayes said. “When you have to go into a situation that has multiple inmates, pepper spray is not always a good option because you don’t always get close enough [for the spray to work].”
Metropolitan King County Executive Dow Constantine wasn’t required to approve the addition of Tasers, but “is aware” of the change, said county spokeswoman Christine Lange.