Manchester police use Taser to stop a suicide
MANCHESTER — Less than two weeks after completing Taser training, Manchester police encounter a textbook case for the devices — and prevent a woman from taking her own life.
The incident unfolded Sunday evening, police said, when officers responded to a house in the Pine Lake Park section and found a 27-year-old woman slashing herself repeatedly with a large kitchen knife.
When she ignored commands to drop the knife, an officer applied the Controlled Energy Device (CED), subduing her and eliminating the threat of more damage to herself or to police, authorities said. She was hospitalized for treatment of her wounds and for mental health evaluations.
Police said that about 50 officers and supervisors completed the two-day training. Authorities tout the CEDs, or stun guns, as a safe method of resolving "volatile and potentially violent situations" before they escalate and leave few options other than deadly force.
Officers authorized for CEDs also attend a day of training by the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office and mental health experts, specifically regarding individuals with special needs or emotional problems. They then are required to complete an on-line course managed by the New Jersey Department of Homeland Security and Preparedness.
In Manchester, the decision to purchase the Tasers stemmed from what police see as a steady rise in unpredictable, and sometimes dangerous, situations.
They note a 61-percent rise in calls for response to possbile mental-health problems or emotionally disturbed invidiuals between 2012, when 298 reports were logged, and 2016, when 481 calls were received.
Chief Lisa Parker underscores the safety factor attached to the devices, and their usefulness in staving off potential tragedies.
"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," Parker said in prepared comments. " In this case, the use of the CED, saved a life."
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