The California Highway Patrol is evaluating whether to arm its officers with Taser stun guns, potentially becoming one of the nation’s largest police forces carrying the weapons, reports the Sacramento Bee. CHP officers carried 34 stun guns during a seven-month trial period that ended March 31, CHP spokeswoman Fran Clader said. The CHP commissioner’s office will decide whether to equip the patrol’s 7,287 officers after a report on the pilot project is filed later this month.
“The results so far have indicated that the less-lethal weapons systems are an effective means of force when used appropriately,” Clader said. The officers’ union supports arming patrolmen with the weapons. CHP officers now carry a .40-caliber handgun, baton and can of pepper spray. Taser use has drawn controversy nationwide over concerns about the gun’s safety. Six Sacramento-area men have died after being hit with the stun gun in about five years since 755 Tasers were issued to Sacramento police and 523 to Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies. According to an Amnesty International report on the Taser that was issued in March, more than 150 people nationwide have died after being hit by a Taser since 2001. The stun gun was officially ruled at least a contributing factor in 23 deaths nationwide.