It is the right decision for Oak Park police officers to begin carrying Tasers as they patrol our streets. The 2017 village budget includes $90,000 to purchase the devices.
A frightening incident in which an Oak Park officer was brutally attacked by a perpetrator last September seems to have been the catalyst for a change that makes Oak Park the last force in our area to adopt Tasers. While we support this change, we also understand the reticence that has held Oak Park back over the years.
We have watched in other communities we cover as Tasers have been used too readily as a method to incapacitate a suspect. While clearly a major step down from lethal force, a Taser is a serious weapon that must only be used in exceptional circumstances. We are heartened that, in the documentation supplied to the village board in support of Tasers, the department made clear Tasers are not a replacement or a short-cut to conscious efforts to de-escalate fraught confrontations.
Clear and explicit use guidelines and thorough training will be vital to Oak Park cops effectively and fairly using this new tool.