As a Brownstown Police Department officer recently activated his taser, it backfired and shocked him through the battery.
That incident on top of three being broken and others not working properly resulted in the department seeking the town council’s approval to purchase nine new tasers.
Chief Tom Hanner said the department has had tasers since 2011, and this is the first time he has requested buying new ones.
Assistant Police Chief Joe Kelly said the total cost is $18,954. After recently talking to Jackson County Prosecutor Jeff Chalfant, he learned the office would cover half of that cost.
Hanner said the prosecutor’s office also helped with the expense when the department first bought the tasers.
“I explained to him in person what has gone on with our tasers, and he’s like, ‘Yeah, that’s bad.’ It was his decision to pay for it (through the prosecutor’s office),” Kelly said of Chalfant.
“They are supposed to go for five seconds,” Kelly said of the tasers. “You pull the trigger, and some of them were going for like three seconds, then take a pause, turn off, turn back on and then continue, so it feels like you’re actually doing more than what you should be doing to the person that unfortunately is getting the brunt end of it.”
Chalfant said his office occasionally receives funds that are forfeited by drug dealers. Over the years, that money has been used to provide assistance to local law enforcement agencies in buying necessary equipment.
“We’ve provided assistance in the past with either the cost or training of K-9 units,” Chalfant said. “A lot of times, it’s going to be bulletproof vests or tasers or other equipment that they need to be able to do the job that their agencies may not be able to purchase for them due to budget constraints. We’re pleased to be able to help them get equipment that they need to be able to do their jobs safely and protect the public.”
The Brownstown officers appreciate the support.
“We’re just grateful for Jeff and his office helping local agencies that work in Jackson County,” Kelly said.
The town council recently unanimously approved the purchase of the new tasers.
Kelly said the upfront cost for nine new tasers, cartridges and batteries is $11,394 for the first year. Then from the second through fifth years, there is an annual payment of $1,890.
“That is basically an annual payment that goes toward the cost of your next nine (tasers) after five years,” he said. “After five years is over, Taser sends you nine brand-new ones. You take the nine old ones and send them back.”
The tasers have a five-year warranty.
“After five years, that’s it,” Kelly said. “They are done, and you run into what we have now.”
It’s a no-questions-asked warranty once a department enrolls in the program, he said.
“If you’re running, you get in a fight with a guy and it breaks or we have one back up and we call taser, ‘Hey, this broke.’ ‘You send it to me. I’ll send you another one,’” he said. “There’s a no-questions-asked warranty on it.”
After five years, the department will have the option to re-enroll in the technology assurance program with the company, Axon. The tasers and body cameras that Brownstown officers currently use also were bought from that company.
“They do tasers nationwide,” Kelly said. “They are the standard.”