Evanston Police Department releases taser video, statistics

Nora Shelly, Assistant City Editor

The Evanston Police Department released a video and statement detailing the use of tasers on the force Thursday.

City Council approved EPD to purchase 30 additional tasers earlier this year. As of this month, every EPD officer from the rank of commander to patrol officer has received training in taser use.

“The taser is a less lethal force option used to control combative subjects with minimal risk of injury to the subject and the officers,” said EPD Sgt. Jody Wright, who trains officers in the use of the tasers, in a video posted by the police department on March 18.

The tasers purchased by EPD are yellow instead of the standard black and must be worn on the opposite side of their firearms, Wright said in the video.

“This distinguished color from a firearm allows for easy recognition,” Wright said. “This is done to eliminate the possibility of weapon confusion during high stress incidents.”

The tasers are also equipped with a video camera, which is attached to the top of the taser and provides a recording of the incident from the officer’s point of view. This can be used to “critique the use of force,” Wright said.

Taser use accounted for 17 percent of the department’s use-of-force incidents from 2010 to 2014 and only five percent of incidents in 2015, according to EPD. Additionally, there have not been any injuries caused by taser-use or excessive use of force complaints regarding the tasers since they were first deployed in July 2010.

In the video, Wright said these statistics were encouraging.

“They show us that the policies and practices we’ve put in place have allowed us to achieve our goal, which is to supply our officers with the tool which allows them to effectively resolve a use-of-force situation with minimal risk of injury to themselves or to the combatant,” he said.

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