Plans to put stun guns in the hands of every Toledo police officer have advanced to City Council's agenda. The devices could be in use this summer.
Called Tasers, the guns deliver 50,000 volts of electricity in short bursts at a target up to 15 feet away.
“This will instantly put someone on the ground and in compliance,” police Chief Michael Navarre said.
The guns are intended to keep hostile situations from escalating into fatal force. The department has used fatal force 14 times in the last 10 years.
The city would buy 465 of the hand-held devices for $406,000, out of the city's Law Enforcement Trust Fund.
Chief Navarre pitched the proposal to council at its biweekly agenda meeting yesterday. Council President Pro Tem Wade Kapszukiewicz, who chaired the meeting, said he is not aware of any opposition.
“I think we all want police to have the resources necessary to protect public safety,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said.
Chief Navarre made a presentation to council on the stun guns last year. The legislation will get a first reading Tuesday and is likely to be voted on March 23.
The new model is about the size of a small handgun and is lighter than the model a few officers have now. Chief Navarre said most officers would carry it on their belt, along with their gun, pepper spray, and baton.
The stun guns will be given to all officers in operations, including school officers.
“There are going to be fewer injuries to officers, fewer injuries to suspects. That's proven in studies and in our own use,” the chief said. “I see it as dealing with individual suspects who are creating a disturbance and won't go willingly.”
The device would be useful in “in-between” situations that could otherwise justify lethal force, such as subduing a suspect armed with a knife or a hammer.
The Tasers will be yellow in color to minimize accidentally using the wrong gun.
The guns would be purchased from the manufacturer, Taser International, Inc. Chief Navarre said there is so much demand for the new Tasers that there likely would be a backlog of several months.
The Taser fires two probes attached to wires at an individual to deliver its electrical charge. It also can work by pressing the point of the gun directly into skin or clothing.
Police bought 24 of the previous model Tasers early last year, distributing them to field operations, the special enforcement bureau, and the mountain bike unit.
Officers began training Monday on how to use the new Tasers.
Blade staff writer Christina Hall contributed to this report.