Bennington police chief willing to be Tased to make weapon available to force

BENNINGTON, Vt. (NEWS10) – The Bennington police chief is willing to take a hit from a Taser to convince the town board to outfit his officers with the weapon.

With 26 years of police work under his belt, Chief Paul Doucette knows what it’s like to be Tased.

“I just collapsed to the ground, and afterward, I felt very compliant,” he said.

Doucette said he’s willing to go through the pain again to try to convince the select board that his 26 officers need Tasers to deal with what he said is an increase in people being combative with police.

“We’re seeing that trend around this country, and we’re seeing that here as well in Bennington where people don’t always comply with police commands,” he said.

Currently, Bennington officers will use pepper spray on those who resist arrest, but the chief said it has drawbacks.

“I also can be affected by the pepper spray and the contents, so we want to try and avoid that because if I can’t breathe, then I can’t fight, either,” Doucette said.

Town Manager Stuart Hurd said it comes down to cost. The chief wants to outfit each officer, but he will settle with just ten to begin. Ten Tasers would cost taxpayers $22,000.

“That’s not even one-third of a cent on the tax rate,” Hurd said.

But Hurd said the select board is aware that the devices can prove deadly. Dontay Ivy died after being Tased by Albany police in April 2015. Amedical examiner said a pre-existing heart condition played a role.

“People that suffer from mental illness, we have concerns about elderly people, but we are prepared that would be covered in the training,” Doucette said.

Ultimately, Doucette’s advice to anyone who is approached by an officer is to comply.

“Don’t resist the police,” he said. “Don’t fight with the police, because generally, both end up getting hurt.”

If the select board agrees to include the $22,000 expense in the budget and voters pass it, the police department will have the Tasers in July.

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