Trout fishing lands new Tasers for New Kensington police
The source of money the New Kensington Police Department will use to buy new Tasers is a little fishy.
The money, enough to buy three of the $1,000 units, comes from funds raised at the Alle-Kiski Health Foundation's annual trout fishing tournament in May. The police will be able to buy the devices, holsters and training materials from the manufacturer, Axon, previously known as Taser International.
“We wanted to make a gift in memory of Patrolman Brian Shaw, and we have been told there is a need for Tasers,” foundation Executive Director John Pastorek said Wednesday.
Tasers use an electrical charge to disable people briefly so they can be arrested without incident.
The department has some Tasers and gradually will replace them. The first Tasers were used in the city in the early 2000s.
Increased costs are making it challenging to replace them.
New Kensington police Chief Bob Deringer said Tasers have become important to police even when the equipment isn't used.
“As an officer, you can see people on the street sizing you up. We don't know how many assaults on officers have been prevented just because someone sees the Taser worn by an officer,” he said.
“When you don't have a Taser and it's just a gun on your belt, they know that you aren't going to shoot them for just showing off, so they push it. They don't fool around with a Taser present,” Deringer said.
The devices are hard to miss with some being bright yellow and others having brightly colored bands on them.“Word gets around pretty quick that you don't want to be Tased,” said Joe Loche, a New Kensington patrolman and school resource officer.
“Other community groups should help New Kensington and other police purchase new Tasers,” Pastorek said. “It would very worthwhile.”The foundation has been working since 1997 to help people in more than a dozen counties.
It routinely sponsors health-related training, drug education, gives medical scholarships, and it has paid for a fourth AK Pulser emergency medical vehicle. That specially equipped SUV is driven by a paramedic who goes to emergencies throughout the Alle-Kiski Valley.
The foundation also has donated money for police protective vests, radios and car computers. It has given about $100,000 to Alle-Kiski first responders and police to buy Automatic External Defibrillators used to aid people with heart problems.
It also formed the Highlands Emergency Services Alliance, which supports school-based firefighter training with full credit towards graduation from Highlands Senior High School.
Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711, email@example.com or via Twitter @ChuckBiedka.