Budget Constraints Could Hinder Number Of TPD Officers With Tasers

Friday, March 13th 2015, 7:47 pm
By: Tess Maune

The Tulsa Police Department wants to put Tasers in the hands of more officers, but officers said there's not enough money in the budget.

The department's foundation is hoping to help and said research shows officers with Tasers help to significantly reduce excessive force, but more importantly, police said it cuts down on injuries.

Though he has a gun holstered on his hip, Tulsa Special Operations Team Commander Mike Eckert hopes he never has to use it on the job.

So, to cut down on the use of deadly force, TPD wants to arm more of its officers with Tasers. There are about 750 Tulsa cops and only 100 have a Taser.

“Right now there's just not enough money in the budget to purchase Tasers,” said TPD Foundation Chairman Roger Chasteen.

The foundation was formed in December, and its first big project is to buy 400 new Tasers by the end of this year; it will cost $858,000.

To help raise money, Chasteen took a hit himself.

“It was extremely painful,” he said. “After the five seconds is over, the pain stops, but what it does is takes the fight out of you and that's what they're intended to do.”

I, too, can attest to how incapacitating it can be. I volunteered to feel it for myself several months ago. It locks up the muscles, stopping a suspect in his or her tracks.

While Tasers wouldn't replace guns, Eckert said they would make the streets safer for both cops and citizens.

“There are many occasions where a Taser is needed and even being requested for on the radio, and there's just nobody available that has one,” he said.

Eckert used an early morning police call last September as an example. Three officers repeatedly told a suicidal man to drop his knife, but he refused.

If an officer with a Taser had been on scene, Eckert said the suspect could have been stopped when he was only a threat to himself.

Instead, the man charged police and they had no other choice but to shoot. The man did not survive.

“There's no joy in taking another human life,” Eckert said.

The price tag is big, but it technically covers 800 Tasers, because after five years, the first 400 will be replaced with new Tasers.

If you'd like to donate to the cause, you can learn more information at the TPD Foundation website.