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New stun guns added to Hampton police arsenal

| Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
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TASER X26P Smart Weapon

By a vote of Hampton Council, the township plans to spend $9,683 for 10 new Taser X26P stun guns, battery packs and holsters, so that all officers in Hampton Police Department can carry and maintain their own Taser weapons.

“It should save on the wear and tear of the units,” Hampton township manager Chris Lochner said.

Hampton police officers now share nine of the devices, originally purchased years ago.

“We've probably only used them a few times in the years that we've had them,” Hampton police Chief Mike Pecora said.

Taser devices shoot darts with electrodes that shock a person and immobilize the his muscles.

Hampton's new Taser X26P stun guns are bright yellow and black.

“With the purchase of the new Tasers, each officer will be responsible for his own Taser unit,” Hampton police Sgt. Tom Vulakovich said. “They will be exposed to less usage, thus extending the life and integrity of the Taser unit.

“Currently, the Taser units are rotated through officers during each shift and are exposed to the elements and normal wear and tear 24 hours a day,” Vulakovich said.

“The Taser unit will only be deployed when either an officer's or citizen's safety is threatened, and that level of force is authorized by law,” Vulakovich said. “In 2013, only one Taser was deployed.”

Vulakovich likened Taser devices to the firearms, radios and handcuffs assigned to all officers.

“These items are part of their uniform and are vital pieces of equipment, enabling them to carry out their duties,” Vulakovich said.

Pecora said police officers generally use devices as needed.

“Obviously, if you don't have to shoot someone with a bullet, the Taser is the next best thing,” Pecora said. “You use the least amount of force, and you go up the continuum, based on what the situation dictates.”

Equipping officers with their own Taser devices is a trend among local law-enforcement agencies, Taser spokesman Steve Tuttle said.

“When you pass around a device for three shifts, it gets dinged up,” Tuttle said. “The maintenance goes bad.”

Hampton's new Taser X26P units were introduced last year and replaced the Taser X26, introduced in 2003. “It's all digital,” Tuttle said about the Taser X26P. “It's a safer product. It's a better product.”

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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