The Board of Estimates unanimously approved a $5 million contract on Wednesday morning with the company that makes Tasers. The five-year contract will make sure the Baltimore Police Department has an upgraded set of the less-lethal weapons.
The deal is with Axon Enterprise Inc., an Arizona-based company that makes weapons, including Tasers, for police departments all over the country. The $5 million will cover 1,200 new and upgraded units for the force.
The department must have less-lethal weapons “on their belt” as required by the federal consent decree between the U.S. Department of Justice and the Baltimore City Police Department, explained police Deputy Commissioner of Compliance Eric Melancon. “The Taser program has been an instrument for us in making sure we have more effective means by which to handle an escalatory incident. … without the use of deadly force,” said Melancon. “And so for us, we’ve seen the number of police-officer involved shootings go down significantly.”
Taser is specifically an Axon product — the weapon is known formally as a conducted electrical weapon.
A December 2022 report from the Consent Decree Monitoring Team found that from 2018, when the decree began, through 2021, the number of force incidents involving BPD officers declined by nearly 54.7%. The use of Tasers has declined, too.
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