Few NJ police departments using tasers
Stun guns, sometimes called tasers, have been around for years, but most New Jersey police departments are still not using them.
In fact, New Jersey may have the lowest percentage of towns using stun guns of any state in the nation - only 42 out of 550 municipal police departments have added the weapons as part of their arsenal.
Stun guns, which release high-voltage electric current into the body of a suspect, causing them to become temporarily paralyzed, are seen as way to stop dangerous individuals without killing them.
Colts Neck Police Chief Kevin Sauter, the president of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, believes there are several reasons why stun guns haven't caught on in the Garden State.
Sauter said New Jersey regulations require stun guns used by police to be equipped with a video camera, which means each stun gun costs about $2,500.
"Our municipal budgets are restrictive obviously in this time," he said. "We are looking at other ways to fund those things because the cost of those units with the video cameras are astronomical."
Sauter said another problem is that the state's stun gun policy is very restrictive, because it stipulates an officer may only use a stun gun to prevent a suspect from causing death or serious bodily injury to the officer, themselves or another person.
"We're working with our Attorney General to try and revise those guidelines - to get the Attorney General to look at those guidelines," he said. "Officers are making quick decision out on the road, it's a fast moving type situation that the officer would kind of have to think, handgun, stun gun? You don't know as a law enforcement officer, one minute you could be in a calm situation, nothing going on, the next minute, the next second it could escalate to something else."
Sauter said another problem with the current situation is stun gun training has to be carried out by the county prosecutor, which makes it more difficult to get officers trained.
Still, he said, the weapons should be available to law enforcement if needed.
"Stun guns should be one of many options available to police because we've seen around the country they are saving not only lives of that person that they're confronting, but other third party lives that are being saved," he said. "It's something we want to take a closer look at."
Earlier this summer the state Attorney General's office announced a $1 million grant program to assist law enforcement agencies in New Jersey in purchasing stun guns.