"Behave yourself": Mich. county acquires stun vests for court visits

Stun vest promises safety for court officials, attorneys and corrections officers


By C1 Staff

SAGINAW COUNTY, Mich. — The Saginaw County Sheriff’s Office has recently acquired three new items, including a net gun, an armored truck, and, potentially most interesting of all, a stun vest.

According to MLive, the Nova stun vest cost approximately $2,100 and is worn under the clothes by an inmate being taken to court.

Corrections Officer Dave Bohl, left, straps a stun vest onto Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel, April 4, 2014. The department bought the vest to control unruly inmates during transport or defendants who are causing trouble in court. The vest delivers electric shocks to the back of the person wearing it and can fit under clothing so it is not visible. (Image Jeff Schrier/MLive.com)
Corrections Officer Dave Bohl, left, straps a stun vest onto Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel, April 4, 2014. The department bought the vest to control unruly inmates during transport or defendants who are causing trouble in court. The vest delivers electric shocks to the back of the person wearing it and can fit under clothing so it is not visible. (Image Jeff Schrier/MLive.com)

“When we put the vest on, we’ll have the inmate understand, this is a shock vest,” Undersheriff Robert Karl said. “Behave yourself.”

Since the vest is worn under the clothes, it will be nonvisible to those who aren’t aware of the item. The Sheriff’s Office believes this will help to give a fair view of an inmate in court, versus the image of someone in leg shackles.

“It will maintain a degree of security without saying, ‘that’s the guilty guy',” Karl said.

In the event an inmate wearing a stun vest attempts to attack someone, officers will be able to stop the inmate with a remote that activates the vest, delivering 50,000 to 75,000 volts of electricity to four points on the inmate's back for five to eight seconds.

A noise accompanies the shock so officers know the vest is going off, which eliminates the possibility of a false positive. The shock is comparable to the “drive stun” of a TASER device.

“Instead of having to put our hands on them and possibly get hurt, the minute they get up and we tell them verbal commands to stop,” Karl explained, “the next step is to shock them.”

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