ABOUT TOWN: Town Meeting Overwhelmingly Supports Purchase of Tasers for Stoughton PD
Welcome to "About Town with Mark Snyder," a column that will keep you up to the minute with what's what, who's who and what's going on around town. If you see or hear something we could use here, let us know by sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
TM SAYS NO TO STRETCH ENERGY CODE: Town Meeting Night Six (May 18) was chugging along slowly, The first article of the night was proposed by the Stoughton Energy & Sustainability Committee, and it asked that a "Stretch Energy Code" be added to Stoughton's General By-laws. Eric Studer, an engineer and the Vice Chairman of the Committee made the presentation, which looked to make commercial and residential buildings more energy efficient.
Interim Building Inspector Bob Grover spoke in opposition: "I think residential construction is way down. Adding costs to the homeowner won't help. It's not the time to do that. The new energy codes will be out by the end of the year. The timing is wrong."
John Linehan of the Open Space Committee supported the article. "I think it's short-sighted not to think of the big picture. It's a no-brainer. We should adopt it."
David Asack of the Conservation Commission opposed it. "The goals are admirable," he said, "but the costs are ominous. These ideas should be encouraged through grants, not through mandates. Cap the costs or don't shove it down our throats." Town Manager Frank Crimmins concurred, adding, "This would add more money to the costs of the library project. It should be voluntary. If you think you'll save money, you'll do it."
The article lost.
PUMPING STATIONS AND STREETS ACCEPTED: Articles to accept the West Street Pumping Station, and the Pond View Pumping Station and Easement won easily. The former was unanimous, and the latter won 117-10. Town Meeting then accepted Young Way and Swallow Lane as public roads, and members took a coffee and cookie break. When they returned, they were in for a shocking video.
SHOCKING--STOUGHTON POLICE GETS TASERS: An article to purchase 45 Taser guns for the Police Department, at a cost of $67,500 was presented by Police Chief Paul Shastany. He gave a powerful Power Point presentation, illustrating the relative safety of the guns, and the fact that they are effective in preventing injury to officers, while saving the town the costs of health care and overtime for injured officers.
"This is a necessary tool for the safety of residents and officers. No other weapon has undergone the scrutiny of Tasers," he said.
Shastany spoke about the use of force, and the risk effectiveness of pepper spray, night sticks, guns and Tasers. He spoke about the different types of force required (Defensive, Capture, Restrain and Compliance), and the criteria his department will use for each. Shastany said that Tasers have been used over two million times on humans, with 30-40 documented deaths.
"We're required by law to engage. Sometimes it's not a fair fight. Police officers have to win. There's no better weapon designed for policing," Shastany said.
He followed his presentation with a video that had the entire audience quiet. It showed the Chief visiting the Sherborn Police Department and getting zapped with a two-prong Taser. Two officers caught him, as he fell to the ground. He had two wounds, one of which bled on screen and was cleaned up by another officer. After it was over, he got up and said he felt OK. He added to town meeting members, "My wife was mad at me." Perhaps he got some blood on his clothes. He had made his point quite effectively. (You can watch the video in the media gallery!)
The Finance Committee and the Municipal Operations Committee both voted down the Taser article. But, it passed overwhelmingly, 113-3 in the end to borrow the $67,500 for the purchase.
Shastany did a good job disarming opposition to the article. But, before the Stoughton Police can use Tasers, they need to have a policy written and approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety and Security.
QUOTES OF TOWN MEETING:
On the Stretch Energy Code Proposal: "I'm not opposed to saving energy. No one can squeeze a nickel tighter than me, except my brother."--TMM Elliot Hansen
On Tasers: "It takes courage to get Tasered"--TMM Ed DeFelice
"It takes more courage to vote no on this."--Chief Shastany
Next Town Meeting (Part 7) is Monday, May 23 at 7:30 p.m. at Stoughton High School Auditorium.
EXCLUSIVE! Watch the VIDEO that SHOCKED Town Meeting! Watch Police Chief Paul Shastany get Tasered in the media gallery above.