MANCHESTER – The department’s first use of a “stun gun” likely saved a life.
The recent addition of conducted energy devices (CEDs) – commonly known as stun guns or “Tasers” — in the Manchester Township Police Department’s arsenal neutralized a tense, violent situation before a woman could injure herself further.
In a March 29 press release, Captain Todd Malland said the CED was deployed on the evening of March 26. A 27-year-old woman in the Pine Lake Park section was threatening suicide, wielding a knife. Officers arrived to find the woman actively slashing herself with the large kitchen knife. She refused to drop the knife at officers’ insistence.
Officers finally decided to deploy the CED, which immediately incapacitated the woman. She was secured and transported to “a local medical facility for treatment of her self-inflicted knife wounds as well as for evaluation of her mental health issues.”
“This was the first deployment, and as a matter of course we do not follow up on use of force incidence unless the suspect is injured during the occurrence or there is some other circumstances such as the person exhibiting bizarre behavior or some kind of medical episode afterwards.” Malland told The Manchester Times. “This was not the case in this instance.”
“The use of the Conducted Energy Device by our officer allowed for a safe resolution of an incident which could have easily had a very tragic ending should the officers have needed to utilized deadly force to subdue this individual,” Chief Lisa Parker said in the press release. “Prior to the deployment of the CEDs, an officer in this situation would have had less options and little choice in resolving the situation without the risk of significant injury to those involved. In this case, the use of the CED, saved a life.”
Malland’s press release said the purchase of the CEDs was made after much research and consideration, seeing an increase in unpredictable and dangerous situations. The department has seen a 61 percent increase in mental health related calls from 2012 to 2016. The department responded to 298 mental health related calls in 2012; the number nearly doubled by 2016, to 481 calls.
“These types of calls have the propensity to turn violent, oftentimes with little to no warning to the officer. With the deployment of the CED, officers now have a viable option for controlling such an individual without putting themselves in an oftentimes dangerous situation,” the press release said.
Officers just completed CED training in mid- and late-March. The use of CEDs—most departments use Tasers—was approved recently by the state attorney general’s office and Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. Officers must also take a one-day “Law Enforcement Officers Response to Individuals with Special Needs/Mental Health Issues” training course, as well as an online CED course.
The Manchester Times reached out to the Lakehurst Police Department to ask if any officers have had to deploy the CEDs.
“Fortunately, we have not had to deploy the CED.” Chief Eric Higgins said.