Kansas City police have discharged Tasers 120 times since they started using the stun guns May 25. The rate far exceeds that of police departments in cities informally surveyed by The Kansas City Star. The Board of Police Commissioners voted yesterday for a temporary measure to restrict when officers can use the incapacitating electric weapons after an incident last week that led to a public outcry. In their first month equipped with Tasers, Kansas City police have surpassed a full year of the weapon’s use in such cities as Seattle and Oklahoma City. Kansas City was on a pace to eclipse a half-dozen other midsize and large cities, including Cincinnati, Portland, Ore., and Phoenix. Sixty-four discharges by Kansas City police were full deployments – in which two needlelike prongs tethered to the gun by 21 feet of wire are launched at their subject, before a five-second jolt of 50,000 volts is applied. The remaining 56 were so-called “drive stuns” in which the weapon was directly pressed against a person to deliver a less-incapacitating shock.
Capt. Rich Lockhart, a police spokesman, said Kansas City’s numbers may be attributable to the occasional accidental discharge – the department’s statistics are derived from each Taser’s internal recording of trigger pulls – or to the relatively short period of time officers have had the stun guns. Taser use became an issue in Kansas City after an officer used the weapon on Louise Jones. Police said Jones, 66, struggled with officers after they went to her house to write a ticket for honking her car horn.