Tasers could help ensure safety of first responders, others

Jacob Ennis, Managing Editor

When the police show up after someone has broken into your home, you would expect them to show up carrying a firearm. When you are running from a mugger and see a police officer, you’re going to want that officer to have every tool available to save your life. Who knows if that mugger was only going to mug you.

Chief of Public Safety, Jim Bottoni has a proposal for arming Public Safety officers with Tasers that he is presenting at the Madison College District Board meeting on Dec. 11.

There are two types of Public Safety officers on campus. The ones that wear the gray shirts are student interns. They will never carry firearms, Tasers or batons. The officers that wear the dark uniforms are either part-time or retired police officers. They all have gone through police training, which includes firearm and Taser training.

In order to be Taser certified, the officer must be recertified yearly through eight hours of training and the completion a written test.

All of the officers set to be armed with the Tasers have been shot with them. Bottoni has been shot twice. He said the reason for this is so the officers feel the other end of it to make them more conscious of what happens.

The goal with Tasers and any type of firearm is to be a deterrent. Sgt. Joe Steffen has been carrying one for seven years while working in Fall River and has never had to use it. It is the last resort, and is used to save someone’s life.

There is a five-step use of force policy that every police officer uses. The Tasers would be at step four after physical presence, verbal commands and barehanded techniques have already failed. How quickly the steps move down the line depends on the gravity of the situation and the physical capabilities of the officer.

All of the UW system campuses have an armed police force. Except for UW-Madison, they are all smaller than the Truax campus alone. The safety officers at Lakeland College are armed and Milwaukee Area Technical College is submitting a proposal to their board to arm their officers early in 2014. Bottoni said that his children would not go to college where the guards weren’t armed.

Madison College has 44,000 students and 3,000 employees. It’s the size of a city and has no armed police force. If you lived in a town of just 3,000 people, you would want and armed police presence. Even in the “Andy Griffith Show,” Mayberry had an armed police force.

There have been hostile situations that have occurred at the college and Public Safety doesn’t hesitate to step in and ensure safety. If the type of hostile situation occurs, that needs it, the Public Safety officers will put themselves in harm’s way, endangering their life to save yours. An armed force at the college, whether it is with Tasers or firearms, will ensure a better chance of saving lives. If need an officer to save me, I want him or her to be armed.