Champaign police seek OK for Tasers

Champaign police seek OK for Tasers

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University of Illinois police have 31 of them. Urbana has six. And the patrol division of the Champaign County Sheriff's Office has 54 — one for each deputy.

Next week, the only major police department in central Illinois without Tasers plans to renew its request to purchase 25 of the controversial stun guns.

Champaign police will state their case to the city council Tuesday night, 11 years after their initial request, which was rescinded after considerable pushback from the community in 2004.

"I think it's different this time around," said Councilwoman Marci Dodds, who noted she hadn't heard any negative feedback from the community recently about the idea.

During a series of meetings this spring, Champaign police floated the idea in the community. Chief Anthony Cobb said equipping his department with Tasers could significantly reduce the number of use-of-force injuries by police.

In the past decade, Champaign police have called for help from Taser-equipped local law enforcement agencies on 12 occasions.

"Champaign has had Tasers as long as we have; they just come in brown uniforms," Sheriff Dan Walsh said.

Walsh instituted Tasers in 2004, and he said they have been helpful, even lifesaving, tools. Just the presence of Tasers makes officers and citizens safer, he added.

"People know what a Taser is. Most people see a Taser and comply," he said.

Since Champaign's 2004 request, much has changed, says recently appointed Councilwoman Clarissa Fourman. Under Cobb, she said, police have made significant strides in their relationship with the community.

"The time to have a discussion is definitely here," she said.

Fourman said she hasn't made up her mind on the Taser issue — and won't until she hears from the public.

"I'm hoping that the people will let us know what they think," she said.

Councilman Vic McIntosh, a strong supporter, said the technology has evolved in the last decade. A camera starts recording automatically when the Taser's safety is switched off, "so we know absolutely everything that transpires after that," he said.

And the Taser will only dispense so much voltage before it resets, "just to make sure someone doesn't get jolted forever."

"I feel strongly that our police force, in limited numbers, should have these," McIntosh said.

He said Tasers are most useful as a deterrent in domestic disputes, one of the most dangerous situations for police officers.

"Ninety-nine percent of the time, when that person knows there is a Taser on board, the situation gets resolved. They give up. The don't want to be Tased," he said.

"It's just another tool in police agencies' arsenals to try and solve people's situations, to save injuries not only to the citizens of the community but also the police officers."

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787 wrote on September 12, 2015 at 12:09 pm

I hope Marci Dodds is correct, but I'm afraid she'll be proven wrong.

It took Urbana a year to accomplish this.  Of course, that was Urbana, so it took four times as long as it should have.

They'll show up to complain, whine and moan.  Just wait.

The Mayflower Band wrote on September 12, 2015 at 3:09 pm

Yeah because all these departments/city's have federal grants. Who has extra money these days? Not IL thats for sure. Let's make something clear and use Urbana as an example - the police/gov. of Urbana didn't say, "Let's pool our resources and maybe get a couple Tasers for the rare instances the cops may need them." It was, "There's an opportunity to get federal grant money but it won't last long and can only be used for tasers or a firing range expansion so we better do it now." Same with all the tanks and military-like gear cops in towns with under 50,000 people have nowadays. So if you're a "conservative," remember that you not only support federal gov. involvement in you're states and towns, you enable its existence entirely.

Local Yocal wrote on September 12, 2015 at 3:09 pm
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1) Tasers are a lethal weapon. People die from being tased. Over 600 and counting nationwide. It'd be nice if Cobb considered the health of the people tased as much as he did for his officers. But then, people who get tased are but criminals. Electrocution is too good for them, right? 

2) Police have not submitted to a civilian review board.

3) There has been little dialogue as to what rights citizens have and what officers are allowed to do in a face to face contact. It's believed people must follow all orders an officer gives. But in fact, law abiding people don't have to stop for the police, no one is required to answer questions other than give their accurate name. This misunderstanding was what the Department of Justice faulted the Ferguson Police the most ..

To trust the same Use of Force Review Board that oversaw the sham of the Kiwane Carrington investigation is no oversight or quality control over a tasing Champaign police force. 

Cuthbert J. Twillie wrote on September 12, 2015 at 4:09 pm

Local  read what the Sheriff said,,,,


CCSO has been carrying CPD water for them for the past 12 yrs.  Now that the  U of I has them and Urbana, they will still get used by someone ...


But in your mind, the welfare of the Officers do not matter.   FOIA  the number of Officers at CPD on permimate disablity and the cost  ( well over 600k per year) due to the actions of suspects    Every other agency in the County and   nearly    every agency in the State of Illinois carries them, but CPD.  God bless the City council  and the  cop haters... they know more   than the rest of the State of Illinois.


Looking forward LOCAL   to  you  being sworn in  at CPD..... 

Local Yocal wrote on September 13, 2015 at 7:09 pm
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And blast goes the guilt trip of "You do it then." as if oversight and accountability were below the Fraternal Order of Police. The only profession that refuses to improve and be transparent: police. So defensive have the apologists become, to demand oversight of someone authorized to use lethal force is equalized to hating them. Conclusions such as this leave no chance for improvement either.