Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew says the department will buy 60 Tasers in the coming months, following an Anchorage Assembly vote Tuesday night to fund purchasing more of the stun guns.
In a 6-to-5 vote at its weekly meeting, the Assembly passed an amendment saying APD should spend $300,000 from the police forfeiture fund to pay for the Tasers.
The weapons became controversial this year after Anchorage police officers who didn't have Tasers shot and killed two men who didn't have firearms in separate incidents. Officer Boaz Gionson fired on 26-year-old Shane Tasi after police say he charged Gionson armed with a broomstick in a June 9 Mountain View confrontation, and Officers Michael Jones and Brian Heinz fired six shotgun blasts at Harry Smith when he produced a .177-caliber air pistol resembling a handgun in a standoff at his South Anchorage home.
Mew says currently 113 police officers have Tasers out of about 374 officers. Mew says he’d already planned on buying more Tasers using that money.
Assembly member Harriet Drummond says after this summer's fatal shootings, she’s happy to see more less-lethal options.
“If they have an option to use a Taser instead, rather than shooting, I think we need to give them those options,” Drummond said.
All of the officers involved in the Tasi and Smith shootings were cleared.
Contact Rebecca Palsha