Warren police commissioner opts to quit using Tasers

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published June 15, 2012

 Warren police phased out Tasers used by officers effective April 23.

Warren police phased out Tasers used by officers effective April 23.

Photo by Brian C. Louwers

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WARREN — Warren police officers no longer have Tasers to deploy in their fight against crime.

Instead, they’ll rely on other tools of the trade — batons, pepper spray, sidearms and verbal commands — to obtain compliance and assert control when needed.

Police Commissioner Jere Green said last week he made the decision to walk away from Taser products issued to all Warren road patrol officers after he received an email message from Taser International Inc. informing him that 152 of the department’s devices, purchased six years ago, have “gone beyond” their “useful life.”

“They say it means that once it’s beyond its useful life, the responsibility for its repair, maintenance and care shifts to the owning agency,” Green said, adding that it became a “business decision” whether to replace the equipment at a cost of roughly $200,000 or to stop using the devices altogether.

Continuing to use the expired Tasers after the manufacturer’s warning was not an option, he said, for obvious reasons.

“If I supply that officer with a tool that I’ve been made aware of by the manufacturer may fail to deploy, that’s an officer’s safety at risk,” Green said. “I would never put the officers in danger, and that’s really what this is about. I’m not giving them a product that I’m told may fail.”

Green said he didn’t get any negative feedback from the city’s patrol officers after the decision was announced and made effective April 23.

While the use of department-issued electronic control devices was scrutinized after deaths in Warren in 2009 and 2011, Green said any resulting legal action played no role in his decision.

He also said while the department could use funds from grants and drug forfeitures to replace the out-of-date models, he simply made the decision as an administrator to go in a different direction.

“I sat down and looked at cost, looked at performance and looked at need, and made a decision that we’re not going to use them anymore,” Green said.

The Warren City Council first authorized the expenditure of $201,000 in funds from law enforcement grants and drug forfeitures to purchase the city’s first batch of Tasers in July 2006. Officers later received specialized training in effectively using the devices.

Tasers, once deployed, emit a 50,000-volt electrical shock for about five seconds and can effectively incapacitate a suspect.

According to Taser International’s website, the company’s devices are “used worldwide by law enforcement, military, correctional, professional security and personal protection markets.” The devices “use proprietary technology to incapacitate dangerous, combative or high-risk subjects who pose a risk to law enforcement/correctional officers, innocent citizens or themselves in a manner that is generally recognized as a safer alternative to other uses of force.”

The company claims the products “protect life,” and that “the use of Taser devices dramatically reduces injury rates for law enforcement officers and suspects.”

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