Urbana City Council Approves Use Of Tasers By Police
After a year of contentious public debate, the Urbana Police Department has been granted the authority to purchase Tasers for its officers.
On Monday night, the Urbana city council voted for a 12-month pilot program for the stun guns.
The police force will buy six Tasers -- to be used with cameras -- and after extensive training, police chief Pat Connolly says his officers will be ready to use the weapons.
"I'm just glad that after a year of this process, we're finally moving forward because, quite frankly, it's going to benefit the citizens of the community and it's going to protect the officers”, said Connolly.
But Monday night's council vote represents a loss for the crowd of activists that had been showing up at council meetings for months, protesting the use of Tasers.
They say the stun guns could be used disproportionately on African Americans...and that they could easily be abused.
"I recognize their concerns”, said Connolly of the opponents, who he referred to as a “vocal minority. Connolly said his department’s use of Tasers would limited by what he called one of the restrictive policies for their use in the nation.
“I hear what they're saying”, said Connolly. “We're going to try to keep it strictly for the purpose of protecting people like we saw a year ago in that video."
Connolly is referring to footage showing a mentally ill man slitting his wrists last year on a street in Urbana.
When Urbana police couldn't control the situation using non-lethal bullets, they called in a Champaign County Sheriff's deputy, who used one of the Sheriff Department’s Tasers to subdue the man.