Officers in the Saline Police Department will soon be armed with electronic control weapons.
Chief Larry Hrinik and Sgt. Jay Basso appeared before council to explain how they raised money to purchase the weapons and related equipment.
The department is spending $13,200 to purchase eight Taser X2 stun guns, 16 batteries, holsters, 50 cartridges, data ports and to pay for shipping and handling.
Stun guns became a priority after an incident Sept. 13, Hrinik said, when police were trying to apprehend a teenager with a butcher knife. Pittsfield Township Police assisting on the scene used a stun gun to safely subdue the teenager. Otherwise, Hrinik said, officers might have been forced to use deadly force to bring down the teenager.
With no available funds in the police department budget, the money to pay for the weapons was raised privately. Donors include Saline Lectronic, the Saline Downtown Merchants Association, Robison-Bahnmiller Funeral Home, LaFontaine Chrysler Dodge Jeep, JAC Producs, Homeowner Services of America, Flatout Bread, Quantum Signal, Brooke Sharpe, Brian Marl and Mary Hess. The department raised $13,588. The $345 surplus will be used to help pay for costs associated with training, Hrinik said.
The Taser X2 was chosen, in part, because it allows a backup shot which an officer can use if he misses with the first shot or if there is more than one target, Hrinik said. The gun is weather proof, provides for more than 500 firings and features a laser to help with aim. The guns also include a data port that records all usage.
Hrinik told council electric stun weapons do not affect the heart or internal organs. They do disrupt voluntary muscle control, Hrinik said.
The Taser weapon produces 50,000 volts to create a spark that transmits electricity through clothing and into the body. According to information on Taser’s website, only short pulses of 400 volts enter the body. The website states that the average current delivered is 2.1 milliamperes, or about 0.2 percent of the amps delivered to a Christmas tree lightbulb.
As part of the training, Sgt. Basso was shocked. He didn’t take the full five-second shock.
“I survived. I’m fine. But it was long enough that I know what it feels like,” Basso said.
Basso and officers Hartwig and Jensen have been trained in use of the weapon. They will train the rest of the department’s officers.