A man possibly suffering from a combination of mental illness and substance abuse who had to be subdued with a Taser jolt Wednesday is becoming an all-too-common occurrence in Medford, police said.

A man possibly suffering from a combination of mental illness and substance abuse who had to be subdued with a Taser jolt Wednesday is becoming an all-too-common occurrence in Medford, police said.

The Medford Police Department is on pace for 400 mental hold arrests in 2012, which would eclipse last year's total of 372, according to Chief Tim George.

Wednesday's ordeal began in the early morning hours when a man, later identified as Hector Aldolfo Rodriguez, 25, armed himself with two knives and held officers at bay on a standoff at his home on King Street.

The officers on the scene spoke to Rodriguez and found him to be delusional and possibly a danger to himself and others.

"The X factor in these cases is always the subject," Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said. "If he's armed with a knife, it can become very dangerous. There's this myth that in a gun versus a knife situation, the gun always wins, but that's not always true."

Police surrounded the home and evacuated nearby neighbors. At about 6:10 a.m., Rodriguez came outside, still armed with the knives.

That's when an officer used a Taser round fired from a shotgun to subdue Rodriguez from between 40 and 50 feet away.

The department has used the Taser XREP in the past to bring down violent suspects. The XREP fires an electrified round shaped like a typical shotgun shell.

It uncoils a long Taser cord with two probes on the end that attach to a suspect's clothing or skin. The shell delivers a 20-second jolt that allows officers to rush the suspect as he lays on the ground, paralyzed from the current moving through his body.

"We knew we didn't want to move in too close to (Rodriguez) because of the knives," Budreau said. "Our goal was not to force ourselves into using deadly force."

George said some officers carry an XREP, which stands for extended range electronic projectile, in their cars. It has a success rate of around 70 percent, George said.

"Like any tool, it has a failure rate and doesn't always work," George said. "But it gives us another option to end these incidents in a peaceful manner. I can think of at least three people who we would have had to use deadly force on, but Tasered instead. These people are alive and well today."

XREP's electrified rounds are not cheap. Each shell costs $150, George said.

Critics of the handheld Taser and the XREP have said it contributes to needless in-custody deaths.

In April, the New York Times reported on a study that linked Taser use to heart attacks, some fatal, on eight suspects listed in the report.

George said the department will continue to use the Taser, because he argues the device saves lives when used correctly.

Police previously had to use a Taser to subdue Rodriguez on Aug. 17 when he was suspected of being under the influence of methamphetamine and was threatening to kill himself, but was not armed. Rodriguez resisted officers' efforts to be taken into protective custody that day and officers used a Taser to take him into custody. He was not charged with a crime in that case but was referred to mental health services, police said.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.