MUPD yet to use new tasers, doesn’t regret implementing them


Photo by Ben Erickson

After six weeks, MUPD has yet to use their tasers and that is exactly what they were hoping for.

Six weeks after Marquette Police Department started using tasers, no officer has used their device yet.  

In addition, no officer has needed to take a taser out of its holster for potential use. This is exactly how MUPD wants it.

“I think it’s like insurance for your car,” MUPD Chief Paul Mascari said about arming officers with tasers. “You’re paying to have something in case you need it.”

Mascari mentioned that tasers were not a substantial cost for MUPD, “but in the event that you do have to use (them), it’s definitely worth the investment,” he said.

The first and only instance involving a taser occurred April 24 in the Campus Town Lot 4 parking lot, MUPD Captain Jeff Kranz said.

“Officers confronted a guy (who) wouldn’t take his hands out of his pockets, started to resist arrest a little bit and one of the officers said, ‘If you don’t comply with our requests, we’re going to use the taser.'”

As is MUPD’s goal for these scenarios, the mere mention of a taser subdued the subject. “He stopped everything he was doing and was compliant,” Kranz said. “They didn’t even have to draw (a taser) out, they just mentioned it. But it completely de-escalated the whole situation, there was no use of force.”

That is the MUPD’s best-case taser scenario. Tracking those situations allows for a better understanding of tasers’ deterrent effect.

During MUPD taser safety training in February, four officers volunteered to be shot with a taser to gain a personal understanding of its effects. Being shot with a taser is not required before MUPD officers can use the device. Kranz said more than 12 MUPD officers in total have been shot with a taser in the past, most often during previous police academy training. 

The lack of taser use in the past six weeks does not come as a huge surprise to MUPD. When the topic was brought up during MUPD Advisory Board meetings in previous months, Mascari and Kranz mentioned they did not anticipate frequent taser usage.

Still, the minimal use begs the question of whether tasers were a quality investment. Kranz asserted the priceless difference between life and death.

“(We) don’t want to have to deploy some force where somebody gets seriously injured or killed, and you’re sitting there going, ‘Oh, I wish we would have had a taser,’” he said. “You can’t put a price tag on that.”

Michael Krzewinski, adjunct assistant criminology and law studies professor and former police officer, agreed with Kranz and Mascari.

“(Tasers) are a very necessary alternative to deadly force,” he said. “If they (are) never used, that would be great, but if (a taser) can be used as opposed to deadly force, that’s the greatest thing in the world.”