State Police Establish Electronic Control Weapons Program for Field Troopers

The Massachusetts State Police have entered into a contract to purchase several hundred electronic control weapons from TASER. The weapons add another tool to the department’s less-lethal arsenal, providing troopers with another option for controlling a violent, non-compliant suspect and ending such confrontations before they reach a point where deadly force is required.

“The less-lethal option offered by ECWs increases not only officer safety but also safety of suspects,” said State Police Colonel Richard McKeon. “They are a tool that will help resolve hostile confrontations before they escalate into situations requiring lethal force.”

The State Police have issued a rigorous departmental policy governing when and how Electronic Control Weapons (ECWs) may be deployed against a suspect. The department has conducted extensive training in the use of ECWs for those department members to whom they will be assigned.

“With the distribution of electronic control weapons comes the great responsibility to train for their use properly and to deploy them in accordance with authorized use-of-force rules,” Colonel McKeon said. “We accept and have met that responsibility.”

Troopers are trained to deploy only the level of force required to end a threat to their own lives and safety or the life and safety of another person.

The ECWs deliver an electric charge to a violent suspect who is posing an immediate and serious threat of injury to the officer or another person. The delivery of the electric charge temporarily interferes with the suspect’s ability to move, allowing officers to gain control and custody.

ECW deployment by troopers is required to be reported per the department’s use of force policy.

The 895 ECW units have been assigned with members of the State Police Division of Field Services, who will being carrying them immediately. Among those to whom Tasers have been assigned are the 158 trainees who will graduate from the State Police Academy tomorrow and their field training officers.

The distribution is the first time that patrol troopers are being equipped with ECWs. Prior to this deployment, only members of the State Police Special Tactical Operations (STOP) Team were assigned ECWs.