FAIRVIEW PARK, Ohio -- Police Chief Erich Upperman plans on purchasing 15 new tasers to replace the Police Department's currently outdated models.
The $20,000 expenditure includes an $8,420 grant from the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS), as well as a $5,000 donation from the Fairview Park Auxiliary Police Association. The former is a 90/10 split requiring the city to cover a small portion of the purchase.
"After a lot of rigmarole, OCJS awarded us a grant for less than we originally submitted for," Upperman said. "Because this grant came about after our budget was set, in which I had already budgeted for purchasing tasers, I'm still getting those as well.
"In total we're getting 15 tasers, holsters, battery packs, cartridges and practice taser cartridges."
Fairview Park Mayor Eileen Ann Patton said the city is pleased to expand the Police Department's taser program.
"Our police officers are well trained in all areas of law enforcement and this purchase allows additional tools for safety," Patton said.
While Upperman budgeted $9,000 for the new tasers, he said after the grant and donation the city is spending around $6,000.
"Currently we have eight tasers that are in use," Upperman said. "We just use them as a pool for whoever happens to be on duty. So if we have a full shift working, we don't have enough. Now with 15 tasers, and the eight currently in commission, we're going to issue one to each of the patrol officers.
"We'll then have a pool that we will be using for the supervisors. Because the Auxiliary Police Association are helping us get more tasers, the people we feel are capable of handling those we'll give them the proper training and they'll be allowed to carry them also."
Chief Upperman said his department is purchasing the newer model Taser X26P, which uses the same cartridges as its existing X26 units, but provides a modified shape and different battery with the same capabilities and improved performance and reliability. The new units are also weatherproof and use smart technology to enhance safety and performance.
Taser use among Fairview Park Police Officers averages to less than a dozen incidences annually Upperman said. However, having a non-lethal option is important for the Police Department's 27 sworn officers and 18 auxiliary volunteers.
"Especially everything you see on the news with police, there has to be a less-than-lethal option somewhere in there," Upperman said.
"The only real damage that happens from a taser is the little puncture from the barb. It causes incapacitation of the neuromuscular system, so they're not able to control their muscles, they fall to the ground and are able to be handcuffed."
In addition to the taser, Fairview Park Police Officers also carry an expandable baton called an Asp, which with a flick of the wrist goes from six or eight inches in length to anywhere between 16 and 26 inches.
As far as the new taser purchase, Upperman said he hopes City Council will authorize the purchase in early October with the new units expected to be in use by early November.
Considering tasers are supposed to last five years with many of the department's units roughly a decade old, the Police Chief said the purchase is needed.
"We're replacing tasers that are no longer being made, and we're trying to give our officers a useful tool," Upperman said.