, but last week, the Weston Police Commission unanimously approved arming Weston’s finest with Tasers.
The commissioners did their due diligence, tweaking the semantics of the policy over several months before adopting it Tuesday night.
Commission chair Rick Phillips said the policy is very clear on who can carry the weaponry.
“It’s very definite that if you’re not trained, you’re not going to carry” a Taser, Phillips said.
Commissioners combed through the language of the policy, but Chief John Troxell said the policy will be a fluid document and can be changed over time if the commission feels it’s necessary. He said it was important the commission move forward with the policy, as its approval a as it was refined. Troxell said the policy isn’t as important as the training the officers will now go through.
“Officers don’t act based on what policy says,” Troxell said. “When you’re in a situation, you revert to your training. It’s almost like muscle memory.”
Though the Taser itself is controversial, it’s a weapon that’s been studied the most. Implementation of the weapon has also saved lives and saved money, as it’s prevented officer injuries. The tool at times even has acted as a deterrent just by the mere sight of it, as any person in their right mind likely wouldn’t want to feel what it’s like to be shot with a Taser.
Troxell said Officer Joe Micelli, who is one of the department’s two officers who is certified to train other officers on how to use a Taser, was “actively involved” with crafting the policy and is comfortable with it.
Commissioners wanted to make sure the policy was written in such a way as to ensure the department could not be sued because of language in it.
But Troxell said when departments are sued, that’s not usually the reason why.
“It’s not usually a policy issue, it’s a training issue,” Troxell said.
“Officers shall not carry or deploy the Taser unless they have successfully completed all phases of the department’s training program,” the policy, as read by the commission, states.
“It’s a good policy,” Commissioner Jess DiPasquale said following its adoption.
A new officer
Dr. Larry Jetmore, a retired Police Captain in Hartford, spoke to the commission about the process of hiring a new police officer.
Troxell said the department’s received 96 applications to fill the position.
By May 1, the commission hopes to have tested all the candidates in a written exam to see which are the most qualified.
Jetmore said the written test, which he will administer, tests “critical thinking skills, judgment, problem solving, the ability to separate the unimportant from the important, what the ethical thing to do is [and] what the right thing to do is,” among other things.
Jetmore suggested to the commission that the 20 candidates with the highest score move on to the next round of interviews, which would be conducted by a sergeant and two officers, for example.
Commissioners wondered whether people outside the department should conduct the interviews.
“It seems to me you really want your department to have ownership,” Jetmore said. “You’re selecting a person who’s going to be with you for the next 20, 25 years.”
Jetmore said of the 20 who pass the written part of the test, five will be chosen after the oral exam and will be presented to the police commission to review. If commissioners don’t find any of those five candidates suitable, more candidates will be brought in to review.