Urbana police chief hands out Taser policy study aids
URBANA — Police Chief Patrick Connolly on Wednesday presented civilian police review board members with a roughly inch-thick packet of information and a timeline as the city moves closer toward writing a policy and review process for Tasers.
Connolly has been working toward introducing a limited number of Tasers in the department as a response to a rash of dangerous incidents where subjects — some with mental or behavioral health issues — have acted irrationally and do not obey police commands. Connolly is worried that it's only a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured or worse, and he's hoping Tasers can give specially-trained officers another tool to conclude those calls as safely as possible.
Community members have reacted with concerns that police officers will overuse Tasers, or that the devices will have unintended and dangerous effects on people who are on the receiving end of the electric probes.
The matter now is in the hands of the civilian police review board, which will select two of its members to help Connolly and other police officials write a policy and create a review process over the course of the next three months. Connolly has said he expects every incident in which a Taser was used to receive a detailed review.
The police chief hopes to have a draft policy and review process ready for approval by Oct. 22.
"This is going to be a work in progress," Connolly said. "We have several months to work on this together."
The packet of information to get police review board members started on Wednesday included national Taser-use policies and policies from other departments, some local. The University of Illinois police and Champaign County sheriff's deputies already carry Tasers.
Connolly reiterated his wish to be open with information throughout the development of a policy.
"I want to be very transparent through this process," he said.