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updated: 2/7/2014 1:25 PM

Hanover Park police to use Tasers in pilot program

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Hanover Park police officers will carry Tasers under a one-year pilot program backed by village trustees Thursday.

The department will spend nearly $20,000 for nine stun guns and training. Although they acknowledged the expensive price tag, officials say the devices will prevent injuries to officers who would otherwise use pepper spray or batons to restrain unruly suspects.

Hanover Park was one of only a few suburban departments without Tasers in their arsenal.

More than 700 agencies in the state currently use the weapon, designed to release immobilizing electric shocks, according to a village analysis.

Mayor Rodney Craig, who supported the limited rollout, said the Tasers are part of an expanded police department budget in recent years.

"My one question was if there's a bad guy out there, and he's got a weapon, that's not when you use the Taser," Craig said. "So that's a reality check."

Between 2009 and 2013, the department paid $163,822 in workers' compensation claims from injuries to 16 officers. The injuries ranged in severity from hand fractures to broken ankles to torn biceps.

The Tasers could have prevented nearly a dozen of those cases and saved Hanover Park an estimated $161,334, officials say.

The devices will be shared among patrol officers, detectives and gang units. Tasers will hit the streets every shift beginning in June or July.

The department will now develop policies shaping the use of the weapons, Police Chief David Webb said.

Two officers will log 20 hours of web and in-class training with the manufacturer, Taser International, and then lead an eight-hour course for cops in Hanover Park.

The Tasers come with software that tracks their use. They also can deploy small plastic chips with serial numbers when fired.

The village wants to test the program for a year before potentially equipping officers with more of the devices, Craig said.

"We may learn that it doesn't work so well for our department, or we may learn that it's exceptional," he said.

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