Several Revere Police officers began carrying Tasers last week, also known as Electronic Control Weapons (ECW), and so far it’s made an early and significant difference in assaults on police officers.
“We did the training last week and began to use them on certain shifts,” said Lt. Amy O’Hara. “They did have to use it once, but there were several reports already that when officers took it out of their holsters, announced their intention to use the ECW, the person resisting arrest or fighting with officers immediately complied. Early reports from the field are that resistance stops immediately when the ECW comes out, usually prior to use. That’s great because almost every report I read has an incident of resisting arrest and this already seems to be reducing that.”
For instance, last Thursday evening officers got a complaint from the Yutaka Buffet in Northgate that three youths had skipped out on paying their bill.
Police got a good description and located the three youths in the median strip of Squire Road.
Two were apprehended, but the third fled officers – engaging them on a foot chase through traffic and into busy Copeland Circle.
An off-duty officer on his way to work had been monitoring his police radio and found himself in the midst of the chase. That officer was able to exit his vehicle and apprehend the young man for a few minutes until police arrived.
The young man, however, was ready to fight police.
He wasn’t going to go down without a struggle – until he saw the Taser, police said.
“The juvenile was struggling with the off-duty officer when police arrived and he was resisting the officers,” said O’Hara. “Officers on the scene unholstered a Taser and announced they had a Taser and would use it. The young man immediately complied. In those situations, I think it’s a great tool for police.”
The 15-year-old, after the Taser was unholstered, was arrested without incident and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and defrauding an innkeeper under $100.
Tasers are not new to law enforcement, but they are somewhat new to Massachusetts.
Chelsea Police instituted the use of Tasers one year ago, and found success in reducing the numbers of assaults on officers. That, in fact, is the primary reason that the Tasers are brought on board, as fighting and scrapping with arresting officers has been on the rise for quite some time. One incident in Chelsea, however, involved the death of a mentally ill man who had been Tazed and died later as a result of a medical condition. All such things are to be kept in mind by officers using the Tasers, police said.
Revere Police announced last year that they were studying the program in Chelsea and had a high opinion of the program.
The positive results in Chelsea – as well as the death last year of the Chelsea man – are all reasons that the program was brought about with a good deal of training.
Right now, only 10 Tasers are on the streets of Revere on any given shift. More will be added incrementally, O’Hara said. She also said that there is a thorough training session prior to any officer being able to use the Taser. That training involves actually having the Taser used on the officers so they know exactly what it feels like.
“It’s another option we have and a great tool to have in the belt,” said O’Hara. “The shock lasts about five seconds, and it can be extended, but we don’t believe that will be necessary. I experienced it and I would highly recommend complying and not getting Tazed. It’s not pleasant.”
O’Hara said that the state also highly regulates the Tasers, and there is a tremendous amount of paperwork associated with them.
“If you just take it out of the holster and press a button, it has to be documented – even if you don’t use it,” she said. “Everything about their use has to be documented at all times. It’s very strict.”
She also said part of the training is that – if at all possible – officers will announce that they have a Taser and will use it, so as to give ample warning.