By Linda Greer
NEOSHO, Mo. — Neosho police officers soon will have one more item to add to their duty belts after the City Council’s approval Tuesday of the purchase of 10 Taser guns.
“This will put something else in the hands of law-enforcement officers,” Mayor Jeff Werneke said Wednesday. “It’s a non-life-threatening way to calm people down.”
Werneke said police Chief Dave McCracken had been hesitant for some time about buying the guns until he was certain that the devices are “absolutely safe” and “can be used responsibly.”
A Taser gun, unlike a stun gun, fires a projectile that carries an electronic charge that will immobilize a person. A stun gun must be pressed directly against a target to deliver the electronic shock.
The council agreed to purchase 10 Taser X26 models for about $10,000, which includes training, holsters and downloading software.
“They’re really pretty neat,” Werneke said. “They have a log that can be downloaded that shows the time and date the gun was fired.”
Werneke said the log ensures that the guns will not be abused, and will protect officers from allegations of misuse. The X26 model is the midrange model, he said.
According to Taser International literature that McCracken presented to the council, the X26 and top model M26 “are the only less-lethal electronic control device weapons systems that can stop an aggressive, focused combat trained attacker.”
Werneke said McCracken spent two to three years reading articles about the guns and talking to other departments that use them. Joplin, Newton County and Cassville have the guns, he said.
The company’s literature also states that the guns “directly stimulate motor nerve and muscle tissue, causing incapacitation regardless of mental focus, training, size or drug induced dementia.”
When the guns arrive, Taser representatives will retrain officers in their use.
“Just by being on the police force, officers already have been trained,” Werneke said. “They actually get a jolt. Now they get to go through that again.”
Neosho officers will continue to carry clubs and Mace for a time after the guns are put in use, Werneke said. Eventually, clubs and Mace may be removed, he said.
The 10 guns will be enough to equip half the department. Next year, the city will budget for 10 more guns, Werneke said. In the meantime, officers will sign out guns for their shifts.
“Every officer will carry one when they are on duty,” Werneke said.
New police cars
The Neosho City Council on Tuesday approved a contract with Joe Machens Ford for four 2008 Crown Victoria patrol cars for $89,852 to replace cars with high mileage. The council also approved a contract with Odessa Ford Chrysler for two 2008 Dodge Magnum police investigation cars for $43,774.
By Linda Greer
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