Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Council queries hold up Taser purchase



By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The U.S. Department of Justice will give Cincinnati $740,000 to buy officers new Tasers, but immediate delivery of the guns may be delayed because some City Council members want more answers about how they work..

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Official notification of the federal grant money is expected today, City Manager Valerie Lemmie said Tuesday. Mayor Charlie Luken still wants the city to buy the first 200, at $799 each, by the end of the week. He said a Taser, which delivers an electrical current meant to temporarily disable a person, may not have helped in the death last week of Nathaniel Jones, but he wants officers to have another option..

"It was in the pipeline," Lemmie said of the city's request to Justice for the money. "Clearly, we have been on the phone since the incident to see if we can move it forward."

Six officers were captured on a police videotape Nov. 30 striking Jones with their batons after the 41-year-old Northside man lunged at officers in a restaurant parking lot. Jones, who had cocaine and PCP in his system, died a short time later. Officials ruled that his enlarged heart stopped because of the stress of the struggle.

Vice Mayor Alicia Reece plans to introduce a motion today that would require police officers to get recertified in CPR every year. Now, they learn it in the academy but are not required to update their training.

Other developments Tuesday related to the Jones death:

• All six officers involved in Jones' death reported back to work in District 5 at 11 p.m. Monday. Their shift histories show they answered routine calls, for things like traffic stops, a reported robbery in Clifton and a fight in Winton Hills.

• Council's Law and Public Safety Committee voted 4-2 to ask the city manager to draw up new policies on the dissemination of information to council members. Some council members complained last week that the public, through the media, learned about developments in the Jones case before they did.

"Let me get this straight: Today Cincinnati City Council delayed the purchase of life-saving equipment, trampled on the city's charter and still hasn't made a decision on the public's right to know,'' Luken said. "It's an historic day."

The city charter reference was to a proposal to establish an auditor position independent of the city manager, contrary to the city charter.

Reporter Gregory Korte contributed to this report. E-mail jprendergast@enquirer.com




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