Tuesday May 18, 2004
Mayor Jerry Abramson announced today that his budget plan will include funding to equip all patrol officers with Taser Guns, giving the police another non-lethal weapon to fight crime.
Tasers are now utilized in 4,300 police departments across the country, including some of the largest cities such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, Seattle and St. Louis. In communities where they are used, police report fewer injuries to both officers and suspects and, in many instances, a dramatic drop in the number of times officers have to fire their guns.
"There is a broad consensus that the Taser represents the most effective non-lethal weapon available to law enforcement today," Abramson said in making the announcement along with Louisville Metro Police Chief Robert White. "The facts speak for themselves."
White recommended the purchase of nearly 1,100 Tasers, which will cost about $1 million. Abramson will include money to match federal funds in his budget plan, which he will present to the Metro Council on May 27. Federal funding from grants and forfeiture funds represents about 90 percent of the cost of the Tasers.
The Taser is a gun-shaped weapon that fires two wires, or probes, into a suspect and supplies an electrical current of up to 50,000 volts to the motor and sensory systems, rendering suspects temporarily motionless. The Taser also includes a feature that allows officers reviewing an incident to determine how often the weapon is fired and at what time.
Abramson cited the experience of large police departments across the country in making the decision to propose the addition of Tasers for use by Louisville Metro Police:
· In Phoenix, the police department has reported a 67 percent decline in injuries to suspects since the introduction of the Taser and officer-involved shootings were cut almost in half during the first six months of 2003.
· In Orange County, Florida, where the Taser is used, injuries to deputies during arrest situations have dropped 88 percent. Uses of firearms by police dropped 78 percent.
· And in Miami, in 2003, there were no police shootings for the first time in 14 years.
"The reason for this investment is clear," Abramson said. "Tasers are reliable. They are effective. They are safe. Tasers are increasingly an important tool being utilized by the largest departments across the country. And, most importantly, they will help improve the safety of both officers and citizens in our hometown."