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Wilton

Taser use could go to voters

WILTON — The Select Board will continue to consider the implications of potentially adding Tasers to the town’s police department, and the issue could ultimately go to voters in March.

During its last meeting, the board listened to a presentation by Todd Faulkner, the Hinsdale Police Chief and a Taser instructor, and began to mull the issue. Wilton Police Chief Brent Hautanen requested that Tasers be added to the police tool belt after at least two officers were injured while trying to subdue suspects within the last year.

The board tabled the discussion until they could do individual research on the subject. During its Aug. 12 meeting, the board agreed to continue researching Tasers, and each member of the board will meet individually with Hautanen to discuss the issue.

Select Board Chair Dan Donovan said he had read 200-plus pages of independent Taser studies, most of which he said came out in favor of the device. He said he’s still unsure whether to approve their use in town, he said. One possible solution is to put the question to voters in March during Town Meeting, he said.

Among the concerns the board has is the death of a Florida teenager last week in connection with the use of a Taser. Isreal Hernandez-Llach, 18, was Tased after running from police after they allegedly found him tagging an abandoned McDonald’s building. Hernandez-Llach died an hour later, according to published reports.

The case of Hernandez-Llach is an example of what he does not want in Wilton, said Selectman Bill Condra — police using Tasers as an enforcement tool, rather than as a last resort. There should be a real and present danger before an officer feels compelled to reach for a gun or a Taser, said Condra.

They shouldn’t be used, he said, during enforcement of crimes such as vandalism, criminal mischief or to stop a fleeing subject.

“I think you’re right on target, so to speak,” agreed Selectman Rick Swanson.

The Select Board is scheduled to meet next on Aug. 26 at 6:30 p.m. in the Select Board office at the Town Hall.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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