DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — The Durham Police Department is asking for more than half-a-million dollars from the city for new tasers.
The department said tasers have been proven to save lives, reduce injuries and reduce civil liability costs.
Gary Lombardo was a police officer for nearly three decades. He said there’s a progression when it comes to using force.
“You don’t want to get too close to a person because he could get hurt or she could get hurt and you can get hurt,” said Lombardo.
He said officers start by using their voice, then progress to weapons or tools.
Lombardo said tasers are an important one because they maintain distance and the next step would be using a firearm.
“You don’t want to go to a firearm. No police officer wants to use their weapon,” he said.
Durham Police said nearly half of their 450 tasers are broken and not usable. Many others are about to exceed their life span.
Eighty percent of Durham police officers carry tasers.
The department’s asking for about $627,000 for 250 new tasers with a five year-contract.
Many councilors said if police keep tasers, they need to be up to date.
“Either keep them off the streets or keep our equipment current,” said councilor Mark-Anthony Middleton.
Some councilors had concerns Durham police don’t deploy tasers often. They only did ten times last year.
“For those 10 deployed tasers, what if they didn’t have tasers — would those have been officer-involved shootings?” said Middleton.
Other councilors mentioned different studies show tasers are not as effective and they’d like to see more research.
Some community members also expressed their concerns to councilors and said taxpayer dollars should be going to other issues right now.
“As we’re looking at the police asking for more funding, I’m looking for more funding for COVID relief,” said community organizer Kyla Hartsfield.
Ultimately, council decided on Tuesday they want more information and won’t vote until they all feel fully informed.
Councilors said this comes down to discussing whether they want police to have these tools or not.
The matter’s going to be referred back to the city administration.
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