Ligonier Township police receive donations for Tasers

| Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, 3:12 p.m.

Eight local organizations, most of which are nonprofit, and one individual recently joined forces in order to help another invaluable community force — the township police.

The Rotary Club of Ligonier, Ligonier Valley YMCA, Laurel Valley Golf Club, Ligonier Camp and Conference Center, Bethlen Communities, Valley School of Ligonier, Laurel Highlands Property Services, Tax Collector Sue Kinsey and the Byers-Tosh American Legion Post 267 together donated more than $3,000 so that the township police department could purchase an updated Taser system. The Tasers currently in use were purchased in 2007, and had become obsolete and dysfunctional.

“This is a great tool for us,” said Michael Matrunics township chief of police. “These Tasers help prevent shootings and more dangerous situations — usually just the threat of using the Tasers is effective. These were very gracious donations — I didn't expect so much. I can't say enough to all the organizations that came forward.”

Steve Tuttle vice president of Communications for Taser International expressed the positive benefits of the devices.

“We find no greater pleasure than when a Taser weapon is used to save a life from death or serious personal injury,” Tuttle said. “We've had officers tell us that it saved their own lives. Law enforcement gets it. They see the effects in the field-it's truly a win-win for law enforcement and taxpayers, as the return on the investment pays for itself over.”

In a study conducted by the USA Department of Justice at Wake Forest University in 2009, out of nearly 2,000 subjects, 99 percent sustained little or no injury after the devices were used.

The product packages for the township will also include a warranty in the case repairs are needed and a downloadable program that records the time and frequency of usage, which serves as a tool of evidence that proper protocol and procedure has taken place.

“No other less-lethal weapon can provide as much accountability,” Tuttle continued. “Our devices record the time, date, duration and other crucial details about each event through the use of a built in computer chip that can be downloaded as an objective observer for all uses.”

Aside from a supplement to the safety of the community, the monetary supplement to the township's budget has now provided extra monies that can be used elsewhere, such as police training. The Taser systems will be arriving within the next few weeks and officers will undergo a term of special instruction to serve as an introduction and refresher course to the updated system. Matrunics said he was graciously shocked at how quickly the donations came in — with just a few phone calls, the need was recognized and met.

“We have a budget of around eight thousand dollars, of which we use for grants, student scholarships and other community-based programs,” said Rotary President Bruce Robinson. “This was a need defined by the police department.”

Ben Wright chief executive director of Ligonier's YMCA also considered this a purchase worth supporting.

“Our staff looks for opportunities to ensure that we are supporting our community partners,” Wright said. “As we engage in supporting our community through healthy living, youth development and social responsibility, we can think of no better way to ensure our community's safety and well-being than to support our local police and fire departments.

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