Trustee Argues use of Tasers

Did not support purchase, will not support use

By Margo Frink

(Canastota, NY – April 2013) A discussion on Tasers and a policy set forth by Canastota Police Chief James Zophy got a bit heated at the regular board meeting of the Canastota Village Board of Trustees April 1.

A decision to not enter into executive session was made but the discussion on whether the board has the right to set policy in village departments was challenged.

Deputy Mayor Scott Rapasadi argued with Mayor Carla DeShaw and Trustee Margaret Peters that the board does not have the right to set certain policies within departments and said it’s up to the department head to set their own policies, particularly in the use of Tasers in the village police department.

Rapasadi said the manner in which the police department uses its weapons is no different than a policy the DPW foreman would set forth on the disposal of used motor oil.

Peters disagreed and wanted the record to show that she was not in favor of the purchase of Tasers and does not support the use of them.

Zophy purchased two Tasers in December and submitted to the board a policy that he said falls in line with the state’s code on how they are used.

Peters said Zophy’s “policy” was nothing more than an instruction booklet and that his policy did not spell out when or under what circumstances a Taser would be used. Peters said she was concerned with the misuse of the weapon and cited cases where individuals were injured or killed after being Tased. She also used an example where an individual was hit with a Taser from behind while fleeing police in the village of Chittenango.

“That will not happen here,” Zophy said.

“I want to know, what is a person’s state of mind [when an officer makes the decision to use the Taser]?” Peters asked in an interview after the meeting.

The police department has several weapons at their disposal, including voice commands, pepper spray, a billy-club and their firearm. Zophy would not publicly disclose in what order the Taser would be used by an officer, but said he was following the state’s policy set forth on weapons use.

“Amnesty International considers it a form of torture,” Peters said. “I’m not going to support it. Even if one person is injured or dies from this I’m not going to have it on my conscience.

Members of the police department received training in January.

Other News

A proposal submitted to the board from Canastota Little League regarding its taking over the maintenance of the Recreation Park for the 2013 entered into discussion. Village Administrator Larry Carpenter said the plan is to hire three summer employees who would work under the DPW. One of those employees would maintain the recreation fields and perform other duties for the DPW.

“I would rather try this, “Carpenter said. “I think it would be more cost effective.”

DeShaw said she felt those recreation volunteers were more valuable in other ways than maintaining the fields and said they should focus on fundraising for a new concession stand.

The board agreed to participate in the defense against Prime Material’s assessment deduction lawsuit at a cost not to exceed 23 percent or about $1,000.

Margo Frink is vice president of M3P Media LLC and publisher of the Madison County Courier. She can be reached at Margo@m3pmedia.com  or 315-481-8732.

 

 

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