LYNN — The city’s police department got new weapons this week and their purpose is to reduce the use of lethal force.
Thanks to $117,000 in funding from the city’s FY2020 budget, the police department was able to roll out a new TASER program on Monday, which included the purchase of 24 devices and holsters for every officer patrolling the streets. It’s another tool to use in situations where officers have to wrestle with a suspect, said Lynn Police Chief Michael Mageary.
Studies show the use of tasers reduces officer injuries by 70 percent and suspect injuries by 40 percent, Mageary said. They can be used at distances up to 35 feet and, when used properly, do not cause lasting physical injuries.
“When I was a deputy chief, I used to analyze all the data in regards to officer injuries and you could see restraining suspects was causing a significant amount of injuries to our officers, particularly in their shoulders, knees and backs,” he said.
Over the years, there were several officer injuries that led to surgeries, he said, which meant they weren’t able to work. In a department in dire need of full manpower, the tasers are another opportunity to avoid certain techniques that aren’t always necessary and usually end in injury, he said.
“I think these will have a significant impact in having more manpower on the street, which gives us an opportunity to do more things down the road once we get more new officers,” said Mageary. “Officer and citizen safety is always our main goal.”
Lynn Lt. Michael Kmiec said the program’s $117,000 is not just for the devices and their holsters, but for the cartridges that go inside the tasers and the required department-wide training. At the training session, Kmiec said many officers volunteered to be tased because they wanted to experience it. It was eye-opening, he said.
“I think the overall thought process on this is we will get more compliance from people we are trying to arrest, as opposed to having to struggle with them and therefore possibly having more injuries to civilians and to the officers as well,” Kmiec said. “With these, distance is your ally so you don’t have to be up close and personal with suspects.”
Lynn Mayor Thomas M. McGee said there were several budget meetings with department heads where Mageary made a strong case for funding the TASER program. Until the police department gets its new officer recruits, this is another avenue in making sure the city’s current officers remain on patrol, protecting the city.
“We want to make sure the officers have what they need in order to do their jobs and to interact with the community in a positive way,” said McGee. “We are all one community and we want to make sure people feel safe and comfortable with all the members of our police department.”