Norris police officers will get their first tasers – stun guns that deliver a usually non-lethal electric shock to incapacitate a person temporarily – after the City Council on Monday night approved the idea.
The council voted unanimously in favor of the city’s first “Police Electronic-Control Weapon Policy” that spells out how police may use the devices, and outlines training and other requirements for use of the stun guns.
Police Chief Mike Poole said the city has ordered seven of the devices so that all members of the Police Department will be equipped with one. They will cost about $600 each, City Manager Scott Hackler said. Poole said that officers will carry them while on duty and take them home with them when their shifts are over, just as they do with their service pistols.
Poole also noted in response to a question from the council that the training officers will receive will include how to differentiate between a taser and a handgun during an emergency. That’s in response to the recent high-profile court case in which a Minnesota police officer allegedly accidentally pulled out her handgun rather than her taser, shooting and killing a man she was trying to apprehend.
Norris police also will soon be getting an automatic license plate reader camera that will be mounted on a pole and linked to a regional database to show officers instantly if a vehicle entering the city has been involved in a crime or has been stolen. This is a technology that is spreading rapidly throughout the law-enforcement communities here and abroad.
Hackler said the city will have the ability to move the camera to different locations, and that it most likely will be used at various key entry points into the city.
The cameras are produced by Flock Safety, which says on its website (flocksafety.com): “If a known stolen vehicle or wanted person enters the community, local police will instantly get an alert on their cellphone or laptop.”
In other business Monday, the City Council:
• Learned that the city has received a clean financial bill of health for the previous fiscal year from the outside auditing firm approved by the state of Tennessee. The audit found no adverse issues, and produced no criticisms of how the city handles its finances.
“The city had a really good year,” said auditor Travis Lowe of Puch & Associates in Knoxville. “Expenses were down, and revenue was up.”
• Heard that the city is expected to get about $680,000 in federal COVID Relief Funds for the coming year. Planning is underway to decide how the money would be spent.
• Set two special meetings: one at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 24, to hold a workshop to write a proposed final version of an ordinance to regulate hshort-term rentals in the city; and another at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 14, just before the regular City Council meeting, to discuss a proposed final version of an updated city policy. The new version would update the city’s personnel policy last approved in 2008.