The New York Police Department is expanding its use of the Taser stun gun, which has seen limited use in the nation’s largest police force, reports the Associated Press. Newer model Tasers that are smaller, lighter and easier to carry in a holster are the main reason for the change, said department spokesman Paul Browne. Starting Wednesday, thousands of police sergeants will begin carrying electronic stun guns on their belts. The department has used Tasers since 1984, but policy called for sergeants to store the stun guns in their trunks while patrolling, rather than strapping the weapons to their hips.
About 3,500 uniformed sergeants and supervisors on patrol duty will be issued Tasers, costing about $500 each. New York has 36,000 officers. Amnesty International has counted more than 300 deaths since 2001 in which a Taser was used against someone; the tally does not show what caused the deaths. Scottsdale-based Taser International Inc., says the devices have been listed as a contributing factor in about 12 deaths.