Boise Police Department
News Release

Michael F. Masterson
Chief of Police


Contact: Lynn Hightower
Communications Director
570-6180

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Taser Report Summary

Taser Report Summary

Boise, June 20, 2005 – Boise Police Chief Michael Masterson, City Ombudsman Pierce Murphy, and a committee of officers and Ombudsman staff will report to the City Council today the findings of a proactive study done on the Department’s use of the Taser.

Highlights of the report include:

  • Boise Police Officers have used the Taser according to training and department policy.
  • The Taser has proven to be a valuable tool for officers, but not effective in every circumstance.
  • To allow more officers access to the Taser, the department should consider purchasing the smaller, newer Taser technology.

Background: The Boise Police department is committed to both officer and citizen safety. The study was done as part of a proactive and continual evaluation of BPD policies and procedures, specifically reviewing whether BPD Taser use and policy still met community and national standards.

“Safety of our citizens and of our police officers is the top priority of this department,” said Chief Michael Masterson. “We don’t like to have to use force, but realize it’s sometimes a necessary part of the job. We want to be sure this department gives officers the tools they need to do their work safely.”

BPD Taser facts:

  • BPD has approx. 120 Tasers in service, most are assigned to patrol officers. Not all officers carry the Taser and department policy does not require them to.
  • BPD first issued Tasers in July, 2002 as a tool to reduce officer and suspect injuries.
  • BPD officers have deployed the Taser 120 times in the past four years. 68% of the time, Taser use has been successful, meaning the subject was taken into custody without further use of force.

Failures have been attributed to probes not making impact due to the suspect’s clothing or other factors that do not point to a significant pattern.

  • In all instances, officers have followed current BPD policy regarding Taser as an intermediate weapon ( Tasers are on the same “use of force” level as Pepper or OC Spray and batons).
  • A number of officers are not carrying their M26 Taser due to comfort, size and reliability (battery issues in the older M26 model). The department is planning to purchase the smaller, newer X26 technology that has proven to have more reliable battery operation.
  • The Taser is most often deployed:
    • during battery, fights or public disturbances (48 uses since '02).
    • domestic violence calls also are a relatively high usage (17 since ‘02).
    • in the Valley 2 area which includes the downtown entertainment district.
    • between 11:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m.
  • 75% of Taser deployments involved subjects on drugs and/or alcohol.  

Taser Committee Recommendations:

  • Increase officer training to recognize “excited delirium”, a medical condition sometimes seen in   those using drugs and may be connected to complications following Taser use.
  • Increase officer training to limit cases of multiple uses of the Taser on the same individual.
  • Purchase the X 26 Taser, the newer, smaller Taser technology.
  • Collect more data to better study Taser usage.

Boise PD has set aside $90,000 from a one time appropriation from the City Council to purchase the new X26 Taser. The department will also sell the current M26 models to other law enforcement agencies to fund the X26 purchase.