NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The NYPD wants to shock — not shoot.
Commissioner Bill Bratton has plans to dramatically increase the number of officers on the streets armed with Tasers.
As CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Wednesday, the move comes on the heels of a deadly confrontation at a Brooklyn synagogue.
It was a logical question. And as John Jay College professor Eugene O’Donnell, a former cop, watched the video of the deadly police shooting of a knife-wielding man inside a Brooklyn Jewish center, it was the first thing that came to his mind.
“He doesn’t have a Taser with him?” O’Donnell wondered.
The officer didn’t have a Taser. Currently, the NYPD issues them only to patrol sergeants and emergency service cops, and only a few hundred at best. Cops don’t carry them. They’re in their cars and trucks. In the Jewish center incident, the patrol sergeant had not yet arrived.
All of that, however, is about to change. A week ago, Bratton told Mayor Bill de Blasio he wanted to see more Tasers, an alternative to the use of force.
“I’m very interested in expanding them fairly significantly, but initially it would probably be 450 field training officers,” Bratton said.
Sources told CBS2 that in the first phase 450 cops — five or six cops at each of the city’s 77 precincts — would be issued Tasers. And they wouldn’t be left in cars.
“The idea would be to effectively have them on the officer’s person rather than in the vehicle,” Bratton said.
“This is something we think could be a tool we use additionally that could bring us some ability to help resolve situations better. But as the commissioner said, it– like any other tool you use– has pros and cons,” de Blasio said Thursday.
The New York Civil Liberties Union raised questions.
“Tasers are dangerous weapons that require specific rules and protocols to ensure they are only used in situations where force is needed to address a risk of imminent harm,” NYCLU head Donna Lieberman said.
“The reality of policing today is that (Tasers are) one of the useful alternatives we have to look at,” Bratton said.
It’s unclear whether a Taser would have changed the outcome in Brooklyn.
“Yesterday’s situation, the speed, the rapidity with which it occurred … a Taser might not have been effective in that particular instance. It’s something we’ll look at,” Bratton said.
Police officials told Kramer that Tasers are less effective in the winter, because they are really like a dart with small metal prongs on the end, which makes it hard to penetrate heavy winter clothing.
Cops normally aim Tasers at the “center mass” of the torso, Kramer reported.
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