Apache Junction police officers will be armed with Taser guns for the first time Monday, joining other Valley police agencies in a move toward less-lethal means of subduing suspects.
Six beanbag shotguns and eight Tasers will be added to the arsenal of patrol officers.
The department began purchasing the Tasers and beanbag shotguns a year ago, but have waited until all officers were trained before using them on the street.
"It would be ideal to have enough for every officer," said Police Chief Steve Campbell. "We are in the process of securing additional funds through the budget to purchase more."
There are about three to five patrol officers on duty per shift.
The Tasers, at $400 per gun and $18 per cartridge, emit 50,000 volts when fired.
The beanbag shotguns, which shoot small socks filled with BBs, is better suited for shooting at suspects farther away.
Campbell said there have probably been some incidents in the department’s history when a less-lethal weapon would have prevented an officer-involved shooting.
"I’m sure there were some incidents, but it’s important to look at how we do things in the future," Campbell said. "We are training to make officers prepared. If they don’t have to use lethal force because there is a gray area, that’s what we are trying to focus on. We don’t like to have to use lethal force, and these don’t take the place of using lethal force."
Officer Paul Newman, who has trained the department in Tasers, said he was excited to use the new technology.
"It’s amazing how the Taser has grown," Newman said. "I can’t think of many agencies that don’t carry them."