Manchester Police To Add Stun Guns For First Time

Manchester Township Police Car (Photo by Jennifer Peacock)

MANCHESTER – Manchester Township Police will have another option in their arsenal to neutralize a threat without events escalating to where deadly force must be used.

Manchester Township council approved the purchase of 20 Taser X2 conducted energy devices – popularly known as “stun guns” – and Taser Cams under a state contract for $51,000.

Manchester Township is purchasing 20 Taser X2 conducted energy devices. (Photo courtesy Taser)

The Taser X2 is described by the company as “a dependable piece of law enforcement technology, the TASER X2 incorporates agencies’ most requested features such as a backup shot, dual lasers, and a warning arc to protect life in the field.” Its back up shot allows a trained officer to fire the device again without reloading, and has laser focusing to enhance user accuracy.

Once shot, electrodes with small barbs attach to the attackers clothing. The attacker is shocked by the 50,000-volt electrical current that travels from the device down the wires, causing what those on the receiving end call a full-body Charlie horse. Various news outlets, including The New York Times, reported on studies that said CEDs can lead to cardiac arrest, although a 2011 study funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice found that healthy individuals exposed to CED shots had no lasting injuries due to the shock.

Chief Lisa Parker and senior Manchester Police officers made the case to the administration and council that CEDs will prove advantageous to the department. The state attorney general last summer changed the policy on CED use throughout the state. Manchester Police did not have CEDs, and only recently requested them, once the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office permitted their use.

“Ocean County implemented a Taser/CED program as a result of changes recently made to the AG’s CED policy that makes the use of a Taser more applicable to the work police do. Additionally the prosecutor wanted the police to have another option instead of deadly force and Taser is the most efficient option,” Al Della Fave from the prosecutor’s office told The Manchester Times.

The county held its first operator class, where 20 operators were trained, last week.

Manchester Police PIO Todd Malland deferred to Lt. James Komsa to answer questions about CED use in the department. He said all Manchester officers will complete the training provided by the prosecutor’s office, which includes a classroom lecture and live fire exercises. Once certified, officers will have to train annually to maintain that certification.

  The officers will be trained in phases, with the rollout of CEDs in public by late Spring.

“All CED deployments are required to be video and audio recorded as per NJ Attorney General guidelines. As a result, all of our CEDs will have a TaserCam HD attached to them which will automatically activate when the officer releases the safety switch on the CED,” Komsa said. “All video from the TaserCam will be recorded in high definition and maintained by our agency.”

Komsa emphasized CEDs are not an alternative to deadly force. They are used, when necessary, to keep things from escalating so officers don’t feel their lives are in danger.

“Our agency is equipping officers with CEDs in the near future to give them another option of deescalating a situation. Simply put, it will be another tool that an officer will have available which, until recently, was not permitted for use by law enforcement in NJ. The techniques used by our agency, as well as law enforcement agencies as a whole, to neutralize a threat vary depending upon the circumstances at hand,” Komsa said. “Techniques range from verbal communication/negotiation, hands-on encounters, OC Spray, ASP expandable baton and deadly force.”