Urbana Chief Wants Officers To Carry Tasers
Urbana’s police chief expects to make a formal pitch later this month that some officers be allowed to carry Tasers.
Patrick Connolly plans to show a video to the city council at its April 28th meeting of an arrest made earlier this year. He says a man was discovered wielding a knife, cutting his own wrists, and ignoring officers’ commands to drop the weapon.
Officers used high-velocity rubber bullets, which weren’t effective. And Urbana Police had to call in a Champaign County Officer to Taser the man before his arrest.
Currently, only the County and University of Illinois officers can use Tasers, but Connolly said he’s getting briefed more often on these type of events, and can’t always depend on neighboring officers to be there.
“I don’t want to subject the officer, the family of the officer, the family of the victim, and certainly the victim, to have to go through an event like that – and we have no recourse but to use deadly force," he said. "There’s got to be alternate tool available, and the Taser seems to fit that need.”
A number of other communities, like Rantoul, Decatur, Mahomet, and Bloomington-Normal already use Tasers, but Connolly says there’s a cost factor involved, and the city would have to rely on federal grant money in order to purchase them.
But the chief says the biggest obstacle will be getting city council approval, although he does have the backing of Mayor Laurel Prussing.
Chief Connolly says getting Tasers would be introduced as a pilot program, getting 10 of them for crisis intervention team officers. He said each deployment of a Taser would be examined by Urbana’s Citizen Police Review Board.