ABOUT TOWN: Tasers

How is a Taser like voting on charter revision on Nov. 6? Both get really quick results.

The selectmen voted last week to have a simple “up or down” vote on the new charter. Rather than providing the voters with a chance to decide individually about issues such as whether to permanently mandate an annual budget referendum, or if the tax collector position should continue to be an elected office, or on a number of other smaller items, on Nov. 6 there will be only two choices. “Yes” or “No” on the entire proposed charter.

What is a Taser? Like the charter question, it is all or nothing. It is a component in a policeman’s “tool kit” for dealing with perpetrators. And keeping the peace. It is quick. And in this case it hurts.

Where does a Taser fit in the scheme of things here in Weston? At last week’s Board of Selectmen meeting, one of our officers, who recently graduated from the police academy, explained. The Weston Police Commission has an established policy for use of Tasers by those officers who have been trained in their use.

At present, the tools available to our officers are reasoning, the traditional night stick, pepper spray, and a gun. A Taser is an additional tool that keeps officers and perpetrators separated. It minimizes the possibility of “unnecessary force” lawsuits. Chief Troxell, who volunteered to be Tasered himself, can report first-hand that a Taser’s sting is excruciatingly painful but lasts only a brief time.

Many of the members of the public who were present at the selectmen’s meeting stood to favor the Police Commission’s policy, and in favor of outfitting all of our officers with Tasers. I commented that the use of a Taser in a regional police operation in Easton a year ago might have saved the life of an individual who was killed.

It wasn’t possible for me to ask a second question, which would have been “Did the regional force in the Easton incident have Tasers and not use them?” What I did say, in offering my first point, was that a federal court just ruled that the family of the dead individual could proceed with a lawsuit for many millions of dollars against the towns that were involved, the basis of the lawsuit being that excessive force was used.

My point is that providing the officers of the Weston Police Department with this tool, which many other area departments have, would be a good thing. We have a fantastic Police Commission made up of experienced decision-makers, some with exceptionally distinguished credentials on subjects such as misuse of police equipment. I trust the Police Commission on this one.

Lachat

The members of the Lachat Oversight Committee are hard at work coming up with a two-pronged plan. Deadlines loom for the short-term proposals. One requires town action to shore up and secure the foundation of the Lachat homestead. Everything starts in the basement.

This is not as simple or straightforward as it sounds. The 19th Century structural support of chestnut beams is a treasure. But will the weight-bearing capacity of the old section of the foundation limit possible future plans involving use of the house as a place of assembly?

Fortunately, among the committee members is a professional preservationist, a builder, a member of the fire department, and someone who really knows his stuff regarding wetlands rules and principles.

Thanks to a grant obtained by another skilled member, the committee has been able to retain an architect specializing in restorations.

And then comes a strategic plan. What uses do you think might be appropriate for the Juliana Lachat Preserve?

NOTE: “About Town” is also on Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 to 6 p.m. on Cablevision Channel 88. 

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