Portland police donating 90 to 110 Tasers to sheriff's office and cities in the county

The Newberg-Dundee Police Department (NDPD) will soon get a donation of around 60 Tasers.PMG FILE PHOTO - Portland Police Bureau is donating Tasers to Newberg-Dundee Police Department as well as other law enforcement agencies in Yamhill County.

The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) is giving away the Tasers because it is upgrading to the newer X2 model, touted by manufacturer Axon as "safer and more effective" than the X26 currently in use.

"There is some paperwork to be done, then we'll either deliver the Tasers or the agencies requesting them will come here," said Erik Daniels, a PPB officer and lead Taser instructor.

Tasers are electrical stun guns commonly used by law enforcement agencies to deal with violent or combative individuals. They are considered a safer alternative to firearms.

The NPD has X26 model Tasers and, in 2012, created a policy that outlines police department parameters for use and safety of the device.

The policy says officers must "Provide the individual with a reasonable opportunity to voluntarily comply, provide verbal warnings and to observe the risk of using the Taser including pregnant females, elderly and those already restrained."

Introduced in 2003, the X26 was Taser's third model and No. 1 moneymaker for a decade. It was removed from the market in 2014 and replaced by the X26P, which had more features.

According to a September article by Reuters, the workhorse is outdated. After an examination of scientific literature and corporate, court and patent records, Reuters determined that the X26 poses a higher risk of cardiac arrest than newer models.

According to the Reuters article, when the X26 "darts impale the flesh it delivers more electricity than any other Taser and almost twice that of newer 'smart weapons.' "

There has never been a reason to recall the X26 as "the risk of all of its weapons is low and outweighed by their benefits," company spokesman Steve Tuttle said.

"I would agree with Tuttle. I know of many instances that the use of them have resulted in far less injuries to suspects and officers," said NDPD Capt. Jeff Kosmicki.

Because NDPD already has the Taser X26, their insurance company determined that nothing has changed as far as a liability risk.

"As long as you are justified in the use of the weapon, you are covered," he said.

The PPB is donating the Tasers not to just Newberg and Dundee, but throughout Yamhill County.

"I had contacted other agencies in Yamhill County to see if they would be interested in getting them for their officers and deputies, so I asked for about 110 or so," Kosmicki said. "This would have provided a Taser for every police officer in Yamhill County."

He estimates the value of the donation to the city of 60 Tasers at about $42,000, based on a new cost of around $700 each.

The PPB has been in the process of replacing the Taser model X26 with the newer model X2s made by Axon (Taser changed its name in 2017 when it rebranded the company). For the past year, PPB proposed to donate from 90 to 110 model X26 Tasers to Yamhill County, McMinnville and Newberg police departments. They began the process in November 2016 and "it took a year to get before the city council and get it approved," Daniels said.

Tasers are a less lethal option that result in fewer injuries to suspects and officers, Kosmicki said, adding "I have seen many times where just being taken out of its holster it has de-escalated a situation."

Taser training is required by the Oregon Accreditation Alliance, which provides guidelines for law enforcement agencies.

"We train with the Tasers and recertify every year with the equipment. Our trainers (recertify) every other year to be able to train the rest of the officers," he said.

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