Police to carry Tasers

W hitehall Police Department has released intentions to equip its officers with electronic control devices, more commonly known by their brand name ‘Tasers,’ in order to help deter crime.
Village Trustee Ken Bartholomew said, “I met with the guys in the department, they all want to have a Taser.”
The department has drafted a four-page, electronic control device or ECD policy, which aims to ensure that the officers are following the proper protocol regarding usage of these devices.
Although the policy is currently only in draft form, much of what it lays out would presumably be included in its final rendition.
The policy draft explains the stringent regulations that the department will place on all officers, in order to be allowed to use the devices.
According to the current draft policy, the department would allow ‘only trained and qualified department officers’ to carry and/or use an ECD.
In order to become ‘trained and qualified’ officers must ‘successfully complete a department approved and mandated ECD familiarization program, to include written and practical tests.’
One thing that the draft policy repeatedly explains is discretion on the part of the department and the officers alike, as crucial to the success of this program.
For example, the policy stresses the importance of forewarning before simply subduing a suspect with the ECD.
“In an attempt to minimize the number of ECD discharges needed for subject compliance, officers should, while deploying the ECD, reasonably direct the suspect as the incident mandates. Such verbal commands may include, ‘stop resisting,’ ‘lie flat,’ ‘put hand behind you back’ etc.”
It appears that safety is the main concern for both the Village Board and the Police Department when it comes to the use of electronic control devices.
“A lot of our part-time guys use them elsewhere,” Bartholomew added, “We are looking into Tasers with cameras attached, like the ones that Ticonderoga uses.”
Bartholomew explained that Ticonderoga’s Tasers have cameras on them, which are automatically enabled anytime the device is discharged, even in a test run. The camera then records the Taser’s usage, which would then be reviewed to make sure the device was deployed within the confines of acceptable usage.
One of the final forms of oversight into how the officers may use their device is the standards for when it is acceptable and when it is unacceptable to utilize an ECD.
For example the policy would not allow officers to use the ECD ‘to rouse unconscious, impaired or intoxicated individuals’ and requires ‘elevated justification’ for use in many circumstances including situations involving ‘a person operating a motor vehicle’ or ‘a pregnant female.’
As for the cost of equipping the department with the device, it appears that it will be minimal.
“Some of the guys in our department are close with the guys in the Ticonderoga Department,” Bartholomew stated, “So, we are going to talk with them and we may be able to get some of these Tasers free or at a reduced price.”
Bartholomew explained that there would be a $175 fee to get a certified trainer, but according to current laws, once the officers complete their certification all they would need to do moving forward is receive annual re-certification, thus making that $175 a one-time expenditure for the department.

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