The McPherson Police Department will arm all 24 of its patrol officers with a Taser gun in 2009 now that the City Commission has approved the purchase totalling $23,877.60.


The McPherson Police Department will arm all 24 of its patrol officers with a Taser gun in 2009 now that the City Commission has approved the purchase totalling $23,877.60.

The purchase will be paid for with $12,877.60 from the department’s 2008 budget and $11,000 in drug task force money.

Police Chief Dennis Shaw has researched the use of Tasers and pursued the idea of purchasing them for all of his patrol officers for several years.

“It was brought up for the last three years during budget sessions. We were concerned that having the Tasers would create problems for the agency as far as the paperwork required every time one was discharged,” Shaw said.

Shaw based his recommendation on feedback he has received from other law enforcement agencies he spoke to at conferences, all of which recommended the Tasers.

“It comes down to three things. Officers are less likely to get injured. Subjects stand less of chance of injury if there is not a physical confrontation or use of lethal force. The possibility of lawsuits also greatly decreases,” Shaw said.

Tasers work by giving off an electrical charge that shuts down a subject’s nervous system causing them to drop. Officers have about a five-second opportunity to disarm and gain control of the subject. Shaw said many subjects, once they see the officer has a Taser, will comply immediately.

From 2002-2007 Shaw said there were 22 instances where an officer was involved in an altercation with an uncooperative subject that resulted in injury to the officer. He expects that in the future, about half of those cases would cooperate immediately once they see the Taser.

Approximately 300,000 law enforcement officers in the United States currently use taser units.
Commissioner Bob Moore voted against the request citing the need to be more fiscally responsible given the current state of the economy.

“I’d rather purchase say eight units to start with to hold down the costs. If you purchase all 24 at once, are they all going to need to be replaced at the same time?” Moore said.

Commissioner Mike Alkire, a former police chief, commended Shaw and City Administrator Gary Meagher for finding a way to pay for the tasers by using drug task force money. Shaw said the drug task force fund will be nearly depleted after the purchase.

“If we can save one human life, this is a small price to pay,” Alkire said.

Shaw said the police department would welcome taser donations to the department if individuals in the community were interested in doing so. Cash donations would also be welcome. For more information, contact Shaw at 245-1200.

In other business:
• Tom Stinemetze, zoning administrator, presented a boundary resolution to the commission. The city’s boundary was unchanged in 2008 as no annexations occurred.
• Vince Rocco, code enforcement officer, reported there was no change in the structure at 516 S. Fisher St. Owner Ben Cross has until Dec. 31 to make repairs on the structure or the city will proceed with condemning the property.