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K.C. Police Tighten Rules on Tasers After Incident With 66-Year-Old Woman

By John Shultz, The Kansas City Star

Kansas City police have added accountability measures to their Taser procedures after the use of the weapon on a 66-year-old woman last month, Police Chief Rick Easley said Wednesday.

And regardless of increased scrutiny, officers have not shied away from using the incapacitating stun guns, Easley told The Kansas City Star''s editorial board. The electrified weapons are a necessary tool of law enforcement, he said.

"We truly believe that these Tasers can save lives," Easley said. "They can keep citizens from being injured and police officers from being injured."

The department now requires a police commander to respond to the scene of a Taser deployment to investigate whether the weapon''s use followed department policy, Easley said. Police officials are also working to refine the way Taser deployments are logged, he said.

The issue drew attention in mid-June when a police officer used a Taser to subdue Louise Jones, 66. Two officers were trying to cite Jones for improper use of her car horn.

Afterward, the Board of Police Commissioners moved to narrow the situations in which Tasers could be deployed, though that change would not have affected Jones'' case, according to the Police Department''s version of events.

The board also called for a community/police task force to study the department''s use-of-force policies and make recommendations on Taser use.

"We need to work with the community to make sure that everybody is on the same page when it comes to Taser use," Easley said.

"We''re not going to be successful fighting crime, we''re not going to be successful using Tasers, we''re not going to be successful in your neighborhoods if we don''t have some community support and community involvement."

The department''s investigation of the Jones case continues, Easley said. Police recently received an affidavit from the Joneses through their attorney.

Officers used Tasers in 103 incidents from mid-March through mid-June, Easley said, a figure that represents a small fraction of arrests the department made in that period. Tasers remain a key tool for police, Easley said.

With the aid of a Taser, officers disarmed a knife-wielding, suicidal man Tuesday night, Easley said.

The man had approached a police captain and asked him to shoot him, then sat down and started slashing himself with an 8-inch butcher knife.

That event was unusual, Easley said. Tasers are not intended to replace the use of lethal force, justified when the life of an officer or citizen is threatened.

But Easley said: "We give our officers an awful lot of discretionS

"It is probably a good example of how these things can save lives and, if used appropriately, can have a positive end result."

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