In a somewhat stunning turn of events, the Weston Police Department will not have to wait until next year to buy Tasers.
Three Weston families have donated a total of $10,041 so the department can get Tasers immediately.
Two of the donations came on the heels of a selectmen’s meeting on Sept. 6, after the board declined to approve a special appropriation of $11,041.35 which was requested by the Police Commission for the purchase of 11 Tasers for the police department.
The selectmen recommended that the police either seek donations for the Tasers or put a request for them in next year’s budget.
An initial donation of $1,000 was made by Jack and Lynne Dodick for the purchase of one Taser, and was approved by the selectmen at the Sept. 6 meeting.
Afterwards, the police received two additional donations for the purchase of Tasers — a $1,000 donation from Dallas and Pamela Kersey, and an $8,041 donation from Sunil and Uma Ippagunta.
Weston Police Chief John Troxell said he will present the donations to the Police Commission and selectmen for approval.
He said the plan is to use the donations for the purchase of nine yellow Tasers, also known as stun guns, and cartridges. The department will continue to use two older black Tasers it already has on hand.
“This will bring us up to speed equipment-wise with the Tasers. Next year, we will put in a budgetary request to replace the two black Tasers with yellow ones,” the chief said.
Chief Troxell said he is very grateful for the public’s support for the Tasers, which he believes are a safer option than a baton, pepper spray or pistol, all of which the officers now carry. “I’ve always had a feeling the Weston community at large supports the police department and what the department is doing. I believe Tasers will make the town a safer place and will give the officers the tools they need to handle emergencies,” he said.
The Police Commission requested the supplemental appropriation to purchase Tasers following a recent incident on Newtown Turnpike where a Bridgeport man acted violently and resisted arrest after ramming into two passenger cars and a Redding police cruiser, and breaking the window of another cruiser with his fist.
Redding police were able to subdue the suspect with their Tasers.
Chief Troxell said that while there is a stigma attached to the use of Tasers, he believes they are a safe option and preferable to shooting someone. “The outcome from a shooting can be tragic,” he said.
The Police Commission approved a Taser use policy for the police department last year.
Dr. Dodick, who has lived in Weston for 34 years, said he and his wife Lynne decided to donate $1,000 for the purchase of a Taser because they wanted to give something back to the community.
“I called the chief and asked if I could do anything and he said they were in need of Tasers. I met with him and learned that Tasers would be useful in helping the police conduct their work so we wanted to help,” he said.
Dallas Kersey, who along with his wife Pamela, also donated $1,000, said he did so because Chief Troxell made a compelling argument in front of the selectmen about the need for Tasers.
“The selectmen didn’t disagree. It seemed to be more of a timing issue. Officers at the Police Academy are now required to have Tasers, so I wanted to see the police equipped with what they need,” he said.
Uma Ippagunta said she read about the Taser issue in The Weston Forum and until then was not aware that Weston was the only surrounding town where the police do not carry Tasers. When she read that the funding was declined, she met with Chief Troxell and she and her husband decided to provide a donation of $8,041 for the purchase of Tasers for the remainder of the department.
“Sunil and I are glad to support Chief Troxell in his efforts to ensure that Weston police officers have all the tools to protect the public,” Ms. Ippagunta said.