After hearing a presentation by the Weston Police Commission and Weston Police Department, the Board of Selectmen declined to take action Thursday on a supplemental appropriation request of $11,041.35 to purchase Tasers for police officers.
The lack of action means the department will have to find another way to fund the purchase of Tasers.
The police commission voted unanimously Tuesday night to request the supplemental appropriation, which would come from the town’s general fund. Weston Police Chief John Troxell said funding for the Tasers was not included in the department’s operating budget because he was directed by the selectmen to put forward a zero percent budget increase. He tried to secure private funding and donations to cover the cost of the Tasers, and received a $1,000 donation. That amount was subtracted from the supplemental request before the selectmen.
Police Commissioner Beth Gralnick, Chief Troxell and Officer Joe Miceli appeared before the selectmen and showed a video clip of an incident in July on Newtown Turnpike which they believed demonstrated the public safety need for Tasers.
The video showed the apprehension of Bridgeport motorist, Jaime Gonzalez, who Weston police were pursuing after he rammed into two motor vehicles.
Redding police, who were assisting Weston, confronted the motorist on Newtown Turnpike who then backed into and crashed into their cruiser. He then led police on a foot chase along Newtown Turnpike and smashed through a window of a second Redding cruiser with his fist.
A crowd of onlookers, including families with small children, had gathered around as the incident unfolded and Redding officers were eventually able to subdue Mr. Gonzalez and take him into custody after Tasering him several times. No one was injured in the incident.
After the presentation, the selectmen took no formal vote on the $11,041.35 supplemental appropriation request, stating it was not a proper request for a special appropriation.
Supplemental appropriations approved by the selectmen this year include a 2011-12 fiscal year-end appropriation in June of $650,000: $100,000 for OPEB (other post employment benefits), $300,000 for bridge repair, and $250,000 for a school window and door replacement project.
In February, the selectmen approved a supplemental appropriation of $68,365 for self-contained breathing apparatus oxygen tanks and harnesses for the Weston Volunteer Fire Department. That same month, the board approved a $35,000 special appropriation for a global settlement with former employee, Oriana “Libby” Rende.
In January, the selectmen approved a supplemental appropriation of $17,500 for the purchase of software for the building inspector’s office.
Following the selectmen’s meeting, Chief Troxell said that while he respected the board’s decision, he completely disagreed with it.
Look for full story coverage in next week’s issue of The Weston Forum.