CRANFORD, NJ — Cranford is the first municipality in Union County to issue Tasers to a limited number of officers.
“The Tasers will be carried by two veteran officers who have completed crisis intervention training,” Chief James Wozniak told LocalSource during a phone interview on April 10. “The reason we decided to carry them is to protect the officers and the community. Instead of using deadly force to diffuse a situation, we can use the Taser instead.”
The officers will carry the Tasers during the course of their normal duties. Safety is the primary concern of the officers. While safety was the main reason for the police to carry Tasers, other deciding factors also contributed to the decision.
“Police force reporting has increased 24 percent in the past year,” Wozniak said. “We also have 12 mental health facilities in our town. These were both concerning factors in our decision. ‘Police force reporting’ refers to how many times people fought police officers. The use of Tasers would help prevent police from having to use deadly force in these situations. ”
Guidelines were recently revised which would now allow municipal police departments to use Tasers. Officers can now carry conductive electronic devices after months of research and investigation. The officers must complete a two-day training course led by Union County Prosecutor’s Office CED Training Task Force.
“The Attorney General’s Office used to forbid the use of CED electronic devices because the level of force needed to be deadly force,” Wozniak said. “About a year ago, the law changed. Now it doesn’t need to be deadly force.”
While Cranford is the first municipality in Union County to have officers who carry Tasers, the county police have used them for a few years.
“Union County Police started using them about three or four years ago,” Wozniak said.
Cranford Police also want to uphold the town’s reputation as being one of the safest communities in the county and state. It has been ranked as one of the safest and most family friendly communities in the county and state, said Wozniak.
“Cranford was ranked No. 1 when it came to family friendly towns in the county,” Wozniak said. “It was in the top 10 for the state. We want to uphold this ranking and keep Cranford as safe as possible.”
Wozniak sees the Taser as being a protection tool for police officers as well as residents. They want to protect their officers, and keep residents feeling safe in the community.
“We want to use Tasers as a protection tool for our officers and members of the community,” Wozniak said. “Cranford has been ranked one of the safest communities and we want to keep it that way.”