UPA volunteers experience shock of stun gun

Nashville senior Onyx Donaldson screams in pain as electricity from a taser gun runs through her body. Donaldson was one of several volunteers that decided to see what it was like to be hit with a stun gun. Despite being nervous, Donaldson said she did it to prove to her boyfriend and herself that she could do it. Afterward, Donaldson said she would do it again. “It was fun and funny,” she said.

Spencer Jenkins

Students, staff and faculty members volunteered to be at the receiving end of a taser Tuesday night at Ransdell Hall, shooting 1,200 volts of electricity through their body as a part of the University Police Academy.

The UPA was established in 1996 to develop relationships between WKUPD and the campus community, said Mandi Johnson, public information officer for WKUPD.

Johnson said she’s was surprised that students from the UPA volunteered to be shocked. Usually the Explorers volunteer, but there weren’t any to volunteer this year.

“We offered it to the class and to my surprise five people raised their hands.” she said. “I think it is great they are so involved in participating in the class. Three students, one staff and one faculty have volunteered.”

St. Joseph, Mich., freshman Sam Helsley said being tased is something she’s always wanted to do.

“I thought I’d regret it if I didn’t do it and I wanted to know what it feels like when it happens to other people,” she said.

Helsley said she has always been interested in the law enforcement even if she doesn’t join it.

“I’m nervous but it’s only three seconds of pain, but once it’s over, it’s over,” she said.

Johnson said taser International has a protocol that the taser instructor follows, as well as WKUPD’s department protocol.

“Participants in the UPA get to know us individually and as a department really well during the course,” she said. “We get to know them as well. If they need something from us in the future they will feel comfortable coming to us.”

Green Castle, Ind., senior Ryan Heiney said being shot by a taser is something he can tell his friends he did.

“It’s just something I’ve always thought about and I’ll have a better respect for this mode of defense,” he said. “Plus, I’m a little cocky and a little brave and I’ll try anything once.”

Johnson said 20 people will graduate from the UPA with knowing the ins and outs of the police department.

“This in turn will give us 20 contacts in the WKU community,” she said. “Through word of mouth, others will become familiar with how we operate and the services we offer.”

The UPA is open to faculty, staff and students, Johnson said. There is always a wide range of people who participate in the UPA.

“This class ranges from student-athletes to the music department and everything in between,” she said.

The first thing to do to get involved is to apply, she said. WKUPD then runs background checks on all applicants and it’s a first come, first serve acceptance unless someone has something on their record.

The academy breaks down into a six-week program one day a week on Tuesdays, Johnson said.

During the first week, the academy has a meet and greet and a program overview, and during the second week the class performs investigations and learns about less lethal weapons, including the taser demonstration, Johnson said.

She said the third week consists of mock traffic stops while the fourth week concerns firearms safety and a jail tour. The fifth and six weeks include live gunfire at the range and graduation.

“This class is for information only,” Johnson said. “It is not to train people to be police officers.”