Massachusetts State Police announced Thursday that the force will purchase several hundred Tasers in an effort to provide officers with a less-lethal weapon to subdue violent and unruly suspects.
“The less-lethal option offered by ECWs [electronic control weapons] increases not only officer safety but also safety of suspects,” State Police Colonel Richard McKeon said in a statement. “They are a tool that will help resolve hostile confrontations before they escalate into situations requiring lethal force.”
The initiative, which includes the purchase of 895 units, marks the first time patrol troopers will be equipped with the weapons, as only members of the special tactic operations team have had them in the past, according to police. These officers include 158 trainees who are slated to graduate from the State Police Academy Friday.
Officers who will be armed with the Tasers have undergone extensive training in their use and are subject to a “rigorous” policy dictating how and when they may use the weapons, police said. Each time an officer deploys one, he or she is required to report the use to the department.
“With the distribution of electronic control weapons comes the great responsibility to train for their use properly and to deploy them in accordance with authorized use-of-force rules,”McKeon said. “We accept and have met that responsibility.”