Police drafting rules for use of new weapon

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John Rogers, chairman of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association’s Policy Committee, said he is in the process of gathering policies on the use of electronic mobilization devices to develop a model policy for law enforcement agencies in the state to use when drafting their own policies.

A Taser is just one brand of the electronic-control weapon and the training that officers are undergoing in different departments around the state is specific to the product, he said.

The policy would be written to cover, among other things, the use of the weapon, minimum training, minimum deployment requirements, when an officer is justified in using it, maintenance of it, and when use-of-force reports are required, Rogers said.

He has more research to do and he will be looking into a variety of issues including medical concerns, he said, before the policy is drafted and goes before the association’s Board of Directors for approval.

At the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, “We train officers to make a use-of-force decision,” said Rogers, whose full-time job is director of the academy.

Up until a couple of years ago, law enforcement officers in Maine had to start at the lowest level of force and work their way up to the highest level, he said.

Now they may use situational use of force, making the decision based on what option would work best in each particular situation, Rogers said.

An electronic mobilization device is just one more option officers will have to choose from, he said.

The academy currently is not offering training on the use of Tasers and similar devices, he said, and is leaving it up to individual departments to conduct the training.

Situational use of force requires officers to make an assessment of the situation and make a decision on what option to use, Rogers said.

There are different varieties of the immobilization device, he said, with some of them equipped with video cameras and the majority of them equipped with electronic chips that tell when they were used and how many times they were fired, he said.

Some of the devices have wires attached to probes and others are wireless, he said.

Under Maine law, a law enforcement officer who is in fear of serious injury, has the right to use deadly force, Rogers said.

The device, which can be fired, depending on the brand, from approximately 25 feet away, would immobilize a suspect, and both the officer and suspect would be safer, he said.

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