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Raynham police want to buy tasers

By Sharon Holliday, Enterprise correspondent
RAYNHAM — Voters will be asked at the Feb. 15 special town meeting to approve the purchase of 10 non-lethal Taser weapons for the town's Police Department.

Selectmen Tuesday approved an article for the request of $10,000 for the stun guns.

Deputy Police Chief Louis Pacheco said after the meeting that the electrical stun guns cost about $1,000 each and will be used in addition to conventional weapons.

Pacheco also noted that until recently, Massachusetts had been the only state in which police departments have not been allowed to use the weapons.

Gov. Mitt Romney signed legislation July 15 that allows law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts to use Taser technology.

"Basically, they'll be used instead of using deadly force," Pacheco said.

The weapons, which are about the size and configuration of a handgun, shoot small, electrically-charged darts that temporarily stun and disable a suspect.

"In towns where they've been used, officer injuries have been reduced by 80 percent," Pacheco said.

"If a man has a knife and is going to hurt himself, an officer or someone else, then a stun gun could be used on him and he wouldn't have to be shot," he said.

Pacheco said two officers in Raynham were forced to retire about 14 years ago as a result of injuries sustained during struggles with suspects.

Pacheco said an officer on the force recently had to disarm two suspects with knives.

"There's a lot more drugs and guns around. The stun guns just give us another tool and a non-lethal option. And they leave marks that have to be justified in police reports," he said.

Pacheco said each officer trained in the use of the guns is also required to be shot by one.

"It paralyzes you. It's a lot like an electrical fence," he said. "You stiffen up like a string on a bow and then you collapse. But as soon as the effect stops, there's no after-effects."
 
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