St. Paul council approves purchase of 230 more Tasersby Laura Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio
More than 230 new Tasers are coming to the St. Paul Police Department. That's enough stun guns to equip every patrol officer in the city.
St. Paul, Minn. — The City Council voted 6-1 to authorize the $210,000 purchase after a public hearing Wednesday.
The police department's request for the additional Tasers has raised questions from the ACLU, as well as Republican National Convention protesters.
Police Chief John Harrington told the Council his officers are trained to deal with peaceful demonstrators without resorting to the devices. The September convention is expected to bring tens of thousands of people to downtown St. Paul.
"I cannot foresee a circumstance when a Taser would be used to overcome passive resistance," Harrington said. "I really don't see it as a crowd control weapon."
Harrington said the Tasers give officers an alternative to handguns as they arrest dangerous offenders. And they're especially helpful, Harrington said, for smaller officers.
"The average Hmong officer is 5-feet-4 or less," he said.
But some critics say they're troubled by the timing of the request.
Grace Kelly of St. Paul plans to take pictures of the RNC protests. While she doesn't plan to do anything to provoke an officer, she said she still worries for her safety.
"I have a heart condition," Kelly said at the hearing. "I think if a Taser were used on me, I would die."
St. Paul police have used Tasers nearly 500 times since acquiring their first batch four years ago. The money for the latest purchase is coming from a drug seizure.