How to buy electronic control devices (TASER)
By Steve Tuttle
TASER brand electronic control devices (ECDs) are found in more than 40 countries at 15,000 law enforcement agencies with nearly 6,000 of these agencies deploying ECDs as standard issue equipment. Here are a few things to keep in mind during the acquisition of ECDs:
1. Who Will Get the ECDs?
Many agencies purchase in a single block as standard equipment so that the ECDs are maintained by individual officers and are always on scene. Other agencies are limited to smaller purchases buying enough ECDs for their "busiest shift" and later adding more units as funding becomes available. Note that these shared units are used more often and take more abuse.
A key decision in funding often resides with risk managers who can account for the cost benefits. City councils are more apt to provide funding when presented with actuarial data of the expected cost and benefit of the ECDs.
Surprisingly, agencies attempting the purchase of more ECDs often fail to present the history of officer and suspect injury reductions that occur with use of ECDs. If you are new to purchasing ECDs, it's helpful to know that this type of data is available. For example, the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority (MMRMA) established a grant through its Risk Avoidance Program (RAP) for the purchase of TASER ECDs in July 2003. Under the terms of the RAP grant, the MMRMA paid $250 towards the purchase of a TASER ECD as the benefits of the program were so well documented.
2. What Type of TASER ECD Will You Choose?
While the TASER X26 is the most used less lethal tool on the market, the 2003 designed unit X26 is still a single-shot system. Leadership now must consider the semi-automatic three-shot system capability of the new TASER X3 as safety, accuracy, durability, and accountability are greatly improved with its enhanced data port recording system, dual laser, and many other features.
Agencies should also consider trade-ins to offset the cost of the TASER X3 as well grant opportunities.
3. Questions to Ask
As with any expenditure there are many questions that must be answered:
• How will it be carried and what type of holster will be issued?
• What use of force policies will be in place?
• What type of cartridges and accessories are needed? Includes eXtended Digital Power Magazines, TASER® CAMs?
• What is the track record of customer support?
• Will your agency purchase the extended warranties?
• How much and how often will training occur?
• What is the historical reliability of the ECD?
• What is the safety record and what types of medical studies have been conducted?
• What is the product liability track record and is it court tested?