BY BENJAMIN J. GOHS, EDITOR
Thanks to a donation from Classic Instruments of Boyne City, local police officers will have new Tasers, a form of Conducted Electrical Weapon
(CEW) which uses electrical shocks in high voltage and low amps to subdue what police refer to as “combative subjects.”
“They are an extremely good tool when needed,” said Boyne City Police Chief Jeff Gaither in a Friday Jan. 5 interview with the Boyne City Gazette. “Fortunately, they are not needed very often.”
The department first began using Taser weapons in 2010.
Gaither said his department averages two actual deployments of the Taser on an annual basis.
“Law enforcement in general has found that the Tasers reduce injuries to officers and suspects,” he said, adding that prior to the CEW, officers had to rely on less effective tools like CS gas, which is deployed similar to pepper spray, and the nightstick and eventually its successor the collapsible baton.
“Tasers have brought a whole new era in where you can incapacitate a suspect and there is generally no lasting damage—yeah, it’s painful and a bad experience but it’s over in a matter of minutes,” Gaither said.
The Boyne City Police Department’s officers undergo annual training with the CEW to help ensure best practices, and the department has a policy on the use of force.
Gaither said there is definitely a deterrent affect in his officers simply carrying the weapons.
“There have been probably several incidents each year where the officer is certainly justified in using the Taser but pulling it out and displaying it gets some people’s attention and they back down and it’s over at that point,” he said.
According to a Dec. 8, 2017, memo from Gaither to the Boyne City Commission, the cost for new Tasers with holsters, cartridges, a data port download unit, and an extended five-year warranty is $9,810.
“The Axon Company that make the Tasers has done extensive testing, and stands firmly behind their product, both the mechanics and the legal aspect,” Gaither stated in his memo. “There are other companies that make this type of weapon but none that have the reputation and backing that Taser has.”
The police department’s current CEWs were bought with funds raised by the annual local drag races back in 2010, and are past their recommended five-year lifespan.
Gaither thanked Classic Instruments and its owner John McLeod for the donation.
“$10,000 is a lot of money,” Gaither said. “We’re really grateful for the donation.”
McLeod, who has worked in law enforcement for the better part of 25 years, is also a part-time Boyne City Police Officer.
“Our Tasers were out of spec and needed to be upgraded, as well as our body cameras, so we decided to raise money to help fund both,” he said. “The reason we thought this was so important was officer safety. It gives officers another option in doing his or her duty … and it’s been proven time and again that Tasers are a non-lethal way for officer safety.”
McLeod’s company has also helped fund the Boyne City Police Department’s bike patrol with equipment and training.
McLeod said he and his wife are proud to be able to give back to the community they work and live in.
“Quite honestly, for bad guys it does nothing permanent and gets the job done and everybody goes home—which is the goal,” he said.