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Town Hall Meeting to Gauge Public Opinion on Police Taser Program

by on January 27, 2016 6:00 AM
State College, PA

It's been nearly a year since both State College and University Park police decided to add tasers to their arsenals.

And now, 70 local officers can be seen with the yellow guns full of electric charge in holsters at their sides.

“These are an effective tool that make one more option available to our officers before the use of deadly force,” State College police chief Tom King said last February. “We’re very confident in this decision. Tasers have been proven to reduce injuries to both members of the public and to police officers.”

After the first year of taser use on campus and in the borough, the State College Taser Advisory Committee is holding a town hall meeting to discuss the policies in place and the future of tasers in town. The meeting will act as an informational session to bring community members up to speed on the program, also providing an opportunity for residents to offer comments, questions, and opinions.

The Taser Advisory Committee was first formed by the borough last May to provide an external review on the use of tasers by State College and University Park police officers. The tasers have been deployed six times and drawn 14 times in their first year of use.

The committee includes __ community members that serve as a checks-and-balances system of sorts on the taser program. The committee includes:

  • Susan Bardo, attorney
  • Jim Locker, member of State College Borough Civil Service Commission
  • Emily McDonald, Penn State student and University Park Undergraduate Association president 
  • Doris MacKenzie, Penn State criminology professor
  • Mark Bergstrom, Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing executive director

“I joined the committee with many questions about the need for and use of tasers," Bergstrom said. "Throughout this process, I've been impressed with the steps taken by the departments to develop policies around the appropriate and limited use of tasers. During this upcoming meeting, I hope the public will benefit from learning more about the safeguards and oversight in place, and will see this as an opportunity to ask questions or raise concerns.”  

According a press release from the borough, the committee is primarily concerned with the level of confidence the community has in the taser programs. The comments from the public and the committee's recommendations will be provided to borough manager Tom Fountaine and Penn State senior vice president for business and finance David Gray following the meeting.

The town hall meeting is scheduled for Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers of the State College Municipal Building. The public can also anonymously provide comments online at this website or via e-mail.

Zach Berger is the managing editor of He graduated from Penn State University in 2014 with a degree in print journalism. Zach enjoys writing about a variety of topics ranging from football to government, music, and everything in between.
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