A bill that would allow Massachusetts police officers to use high-voltage stun guns reached Gov. Mitt Romney’s desk yesterday, says the Boson Globe. Supporters of the device say it could help prevent fatal police shootings, such as two recent ones in Boston, but Police Commissioner Kathleen O’Toole worried about how to pay for the devices and cautioned that they might not be the best solution. She said the guns, often called by the leading manufacturer’s name Taser, can save lives, but that their cost would make it difficult to outfit a police department the size of Boston’s. Tasers retail for between $600 and $800.
Massachusetts and New Jersey are the only states that do not allow police to use Tasers. In New Jersey, the attorney general permits their use on a case-by-case basis, leaving Massachusetts as the only state where the popular alternative to deadly force remains entirely unavailable. Because Tasers could not be made available to every officer, O’Toole said, it’s possible that police would not have had one at the scene last Friday when Luis Gonzalez was killed by Boston police after allegedly threatening officers with a knife. Still, Rep. Timothy Toomey, House chairman of he Joint Committee on Public Safety, said, “If this legislation was in effect, I do believe there is a great possibility the weekend incident in Boston could have been prevented.”