New Jersey police will be able to carry stun guns for the first time as long as they use two models approved by state Attorney General Paula T. Dow.
Dow on Friday announced the models have been tested and found to meet the criteria set forth in her revised policy governing the use of stun guns. She said a training program has been created to instruct officers in the use of the stun guns.
Dow said she developed a new policy on “conducted energy devices” (stun guns) in consultation with the police officials because the pre-existing policy was found to be too restrictive regarding the number of officers who could carry the devices and the circumstances in which they could be used.
The new policy gives police what Dow described as a practical alternative to deadly force in appropriate situations. The attorney general’s office has worked with police academy directors and “other experts” to develop and obtain approval from the Police Training Commission for a training course. Officers who will carry the devices must complete the course, which includes instruction on recognizing mental illness and dealing with emotionally disturbed persons.
Since Dow announced her decision to allow stun guns, the State Police has researched and tested the available models to identify all models that meet the criteria set forth in the policy.
The policy requires that stun guns be able to make a date- and time-stamped digital video recording of every instance when the device is discharged. All digital data and video recordings captured by the device must be safeguarded so that only supervisory personnel can access them as part of any investigation of every discharge.
“I made it a priority to provide police officers in New Jersey, for the first time, with the realistic option of using stun guns as an alternative to deadly force,” Dow said. “Today I am announcing that these important tools are now available for purchase by police departments to help officers save lives. We are also ready to roll out mandatory training on how to use these devices responsibly and effectively.”
Dow sent a letter to all county prosecutors Friday directing them to notify police departments that they are authorized to buy and use Taser international Model X26 or • Taser International Model X2.
The pistol-like X26 is the most popular stun gun and is carried by more than 700 police departments nationwide and has been used more than 200,000 times. Reports of their use have raised concern over a possible association with more than 100 deaths. The X26 fires two electrically wired darts that carry a knockdown charge ranging from 1,500 to 50,000 volts.
The X26 and X2 are produced by TASER International of Scottsdale, Az.
If new devices become available in the future that meet the criteria, they can be submitted for testing and possible addition to the authorized list.
Dow said the new policy continues to restrict use of stun guns, for the most part, to situations where an officer wants to prevent a suspect from causing death or serious bodily injury to another person. The attorney general said officers may not use them against a person who is only offering passive resistance to commands.