In an effort to demonstrate the effects of Tasers, Weston Police Chief John Troxell volunteered to subject himself to the “stun gun.”
The chief was Tased at a police training session on Wednesday, Aug. 8, at the department’s fitness center adjacent to the Norfield firehouse. “I wanted to lead by example and show the officers what it was like to be Tased,” Chief Troxell said.
In a video of the training session, the chief lets out a short, loud yell as he slumps over after being hit by the Taser. In a few seconds, he is alert again.
A Taser (an acronym for Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle) is a handheld electroshock device that uses an electrical current to disrupt the voluntary control of muscles. When a person is “shot” with a Taser, a jolt of electricity temporary stuns and immobilizes him.
The chief said the pain was similar to what a person would experience from passing a kidney stone. “There is a pain for about five seconds, and it’s completely debilitating. Then the pain goes away, and there is no residual pain,” he said.
All officers in the department who will be carrying Tasers have been trained to use them, though not all chose to be stunned with one at the demonstration. Chief Troxell said being Tased was not mandatory.
Before the demonstration, the officers completed four hours of classroom Taser instruction.
Detective Carl Filsinger was the only officer not trained with a Taser because he will not be carrying one.
The Weston Police Commission approved a policy for the department’s use of Tasers in March 2011, but the department has not yet been outfitted with with the stun guns and does not yet use them. The department has three Tasers on hand because officers Joe Miceli, Travis Arnette and Daniel Cascone were previously trained to use them, but they haven’t been used, pending the training of the other officers. Officers Miceli and Arnette are certified Taser instructors.
While the department wasn’t initially concerned about forging ahead quickly with Tasers, a recent incident on Newtown Turnpike was a “game changer” Chief Troxell said.
On Friday, July 13, a Bridgeport man resisted arrest after a pair of “hit and runs” where he crashed into two motor vehicles on Newtown Turnpike. The suspect also crashed into a Redding police cruiser, which had responded to assist Weston.
The man punched out a window in a second Redding cruiser and cursed at police as he led them on a foot chase through the woods near Valley Forge Road. He was finally subdued by Redding police after they Tased him several times. The suspect was arrested and faces numerous charges.
“Newtown Turnpike was an eye opener,” Chief Troxell said. “When a person is violent, the situation can quickly escalate and get out of control. A Taser is a safer, less lethal option for controlling someone who is non-compliant. The Taser may have saved this man’s life,” Chief Troxell said.
While Weston police currently carry guns as well as batons and pepper spray to deal with combative suspects, the chief believes Tasers are important. “There are negative side effects to guns, batons and pepper spray that you don’t have with Tasers,” he said.
The Tasers will come at a price, though, and the chief said he will be presenting the numbers at the Police Commission’s meeting in September. He estimates it will cost $11,000 to completely outfit the department with Tasers — approximately $1,000 for each Taser, plus its holster, and Taser cartridges.
Officer Miceli’s and Officer Arnette’s Tasers will be replaced by new ones because they are seven years old, the chief said.
Funding for the Tasers was not included in the department’s current budget, Chief Troxell said, because in order to hold the budget request down he was seeking private funding and donations to pay for the Tasers.
But there were no outside groups interested in providing funding, so the chief said he will ask for a special appropriation.
A video of Chief Troxell being Tased at the training session may be found on The Forum’s website, thewestonforum.com.