Chicago police to receive 780 more Tasers

Jessica D'Onofrio Image
Thursday, February 4, 2016
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Nearly 800 Tasers are being shipped to the Chicago Police Department to help cut down on deadly police shootings.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Nearly 800 Tasers are being shipped to the Chicago Police Department to help cut down on deadly police shootings under a five-year $10 million contract with Taser International.

The city just signed a contract with Taser and announced Thursday that more than 780 Tasers will arrive in Chicago soon. By June 1, every officer responding to calls for service will have one, police say.

The additional number of Tasers brings the department's total to almost 1,500.

Chicago Police Interim Superintendent John Escalante spoke about expanding the Taser program in December on the heels of several high-profile police shootings.

"That'll ensure that every beat car that is responding to a call for service, those officers should be equipped with a Taser," Escalante said.

In the 2014 Laquan McDonald police shooting, none of the officers at the scene had a Taser. One was requested, but it wasn't immediately available.

Tasers are part of the changes Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the CPD have been promising. Police said they plan to focus more on the use of de-escalation techniques.

"We want to ensure that our officers are not just responding in either first gear or fifth gear, but to recognize the degrees in between, so they can respond appropriately," Emanuel said.

But Richard Wooten, who heads up a group of retired African American cops, says Tasers are not the answer.

"We're not thrilled about the Tasers. One thing about the Tasers, first of all in the winter time, they are less effective because of the layers of clothing," said Wooten, of the Gathering Point Community Council. "It doesn't have the impact that it would in the summer time. Secondly, you don't know the medical condition of the person you're utilizing the TASERS on."

Wooten said he believes bean bag guns would be better, less harmful tools.

"The bean bag gun is a non-lethal form, but it is much more effective than a Taser," Wooten said.