Taser Questions: Truckee PD proposes use policy for nonlethal weapons
Truckee Police are asking for more Tasers to supplement the department’s existing arsenal of nonlethal weapons, three years after raising concerns at town council with the same request.
The police force has had two Tasers at its disposal since the department’s 2001 inception, but is now asking for a full complement of the shock devices for all its officers on the street.
After the council questioned the Taser request in 2004-05, the department has completed a review of the use of the weapons. Police Chief Scott Berry said a report to the town will cover the use of, the training for, and policy on the use of Tasers in the police department. He said the report is not a request for more Tasers.
“One of the concerns was: What are other mountain resort towns doing?” Berry said. “We found most use Tasers because of the safety of the officers and suspects.”
The use of the less-than-lethal weapons reduces the likelihood of serious injury to both police and subjects when used properly, he said.
“Yes, there has been some misuse, but that goes back to training, and we have the policy and training,” Berry said.
The police chief said Truckee officers have used the two Tasers a total of four times in the six years the department has had them, so asking for more Tasers isn’t a reflection of increased need ” just giving all on-duty officers the same tools.
“The presence of a Taser, or the statement, ‘you will be Tased,’ is often enough to gain compliance” from a combative suspect, Berry said.
Berry said he will return to the council to ask for five Tasers, enough to keep the four officers on duty during each shift properly equipped.
Town Manager Tony Lashbrook said if the council has no objections during the upcoming presentation, the decision to purchase the additional Tasers may not come back to council, with staff able to make the decision.
When additional Tasers first showed up as a police department budget request in 2004, former Mayor Beth Ingalls said she took issue with the addition.
“I thought it was out of character with a small town police force,” Ingalls said. “At the same time [Tasers] were coming into the media around the country, and as soon as our meeting happened I got a call the next day from Amnesty International supporting me.”
Ingalls said her point of view has not changed on the use of Tasers in Truckee.
Current Truckee Mayor Richard Anderson, who was on the town council when the request for more Tasers was raised, said he wasn’t necessarily against them at the time. But Anderson said he is waiting to hear more before making any decision.
“There is a gradation of ways to deal with an aggressive person ” there is pepper spray, then there are bullets ” maybe there is reason for something in between,” Anderson said. “What it really comes down to is, what are the rules police would utilize, and how well are they trained?”
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Friends of the Truckee Library gave a presentation at Tuesday’s Truckee Town Council meeting, providing an update on work to ensure a new library while asking for further support for the project.