Urbana council approves added oversight for TASERs ahead of final vote next week

URBANA--Police in Urbana could be carrying TASERs very soon after the city council approved an ordinance adding oversight the police department's policy.

It's been a recurring topic of conversation in Urbana's council chambers, and at Monday's meeting, members moved closer to equipping police officers with TASERs.

"It's gone on for a year and I think the police chief did a really good job on the research and I think we've answered people's questions," said Urbana mayor, Laurel Prussing. "We don't just rush through things in Urbana we do a good job of discussing things."

The latest round of revisions added more oversight to the police department's TASER policy. Each time one is used, an incident report must be recorded. Every time four reports are filed, they will be submitted to the Civilian Police Review Board, which will analyze police procedures and provide recommendations to the chief.

"I think this is really the most monitored,regulated in the country in terms of ordinances on TASERs," said Prussing.

The initial plan is to issue six TASERs to six officers, who must complete Crisis Intervention Training. They would only be able to deploy the devices when they are needed to subdue a suspect threatening serious physical harm to others or themselves.

"In the most recent case a year ago with the situation--although we've encountered it several times since then--with a person who is trying to kill himself and we have to get a knife away from him, the TASER was the perfect tool to do that," said Urbana Police Chief, Patrick Connolly.

There is still some public concern surrounding the policy, as some residents submitted public comment cards opposing the ordinance, but the council will hold the final vote on whether to approve the use of TASERs at its next meeting.
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