DC police chief changes policy, will allow some officers to carry Tasers

FOX 5 Chief Investigative Reporter Emily Miller reports.

- A video of an arrest made by D.C. police on Monday has led to a police investigation on the officers’ use of force.

In the incident, it took more than six officers to control a man who they believe was high on PCP.

D.C. police don't have Tasers now, but Police Chief Cathy Lanier said that is about to change. On Tuesday, she announced a new policy.

“We’ve done some research and we have made a decision to deploy Tasers to sergeants out in the field -- supervisors -- so that they have some alternatives,” said Lanier.

“That is an alternative,” said Officer Robert Underwood. “However, working the streets as long as I’ve worked them, when you get on a situation that requires use of force, it happens very quick. I mean, very quick. Going over the radio, requesting a sergeant to respond with a Taser could sometimes take ten, 15 minutes. That situation is done by the time the sergeant gets there.”

But the D.C. Police Union wants all officers to get Tasers.

“We want to preserve life,” said Underwood. “That’s our ultimate goal. So if we can use something besides a more lethal way and go to the Taser, then that's preserving life.”

Officer Underwood is the union representative for the Sixth District officers seen in the video during the arrest of Jones. Three of his officers were injured on Monday trying to get control of him.

“If a Taser would have been present at that scene, I believe that the officers would not have been injured and I believe the whole situation would have went a different way,” Underwood said.

Police officers in neighboring jurisdictions are already using Tasers. In an incident back in September at a McDonald’s restaurant in Riverdale, Maryland, police found a man they also said was high on PCP. Similar to the D.C. case, they also could not control him with their batons. But they used a Taser and ended the situation immediately.

“Creating distance between you and the person is a win-win,” said Underwood. “And what the Taser does is it creates the distance between you.”

FOX 5 has learned that the three officers who were injured in the arrest on Monday were revoked of their police powers on Tuesday night. They were at home when they were forced to give up their guns, badges and police identification.

We asked the police department why this happened. We received an emailed statement from Assistant Chief Kimberly Chisley-Missouri of the Internal Affairs Bureau:

Internal affairs investigations of uses of force allows agents to place members in a non-contact status during the preliminary stages of an investigation.

Also, we asked Lanier’s spokesperson why she decided to give Tasers to supervisors, but not officers. The spokesperson emailed to us:

The decision has been made to deploy Tasers with supervisors as the Chief mentioned last night. Additional information will be announced to the public at a later date.

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