Thursday, December 18, 2003

Council votes yes on Tasers, no on police CPR retraining

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DOWNTOWN - Tasers will soon land in the hands of Cincinnati police officers, but additional CPR training will have to wait, City Council decided Wednesday.

Council voted 6-3 at its final meeting of the year to accept a $745,000 federal grant to buy Tasers for the Cincinnati Police Department. Vice Mayor Alicia Reece and council members Christopher Smitherman and Laketa Cole cast the dissenting votes.

The stun-gun devices are designed to transmit electrical impulses that temporarily disrupt the body's central nervous system.

Reece introduced a motion that would require officers to get recertified in CPR every year. Now, they learn it in the academy but are not required to update their training.

Reece said the American Red Cross was prepared to partner with the city and provide protective CPR masks at a cost of $3.70 apiece.

Council referred the proposal to city administrators.

"To say that we are going to Taser people, but we are going to think about whether we are going to give CPR doesn't make sense to me," Smitherman said. "If we are going to start Tasering people, we have to make sure our police are equipped across the board."

Councilman David Pepper said the issue was not one of Tasers versus CPR.

"My hope is that we can do both," Pepper said. "We looked closely at Tasers and we need to look as closely at CPR."

35 positions cut

Council also passed its 2004 budget, which includes about $30 million for neighborhood development projects. Budget cuts eliminate more than $4.7 million from the general fund. Councilman Pat DeWine voted against the proposed budget.

Council cut 35 middle management positions and reduced the costs of living adjustment for non-represented employees from 3 percent to 1.5 percent.

Council member said they would consider bumping the cost of living adjustment back up to 3 percent if the city's estimated 2003 budget surplus exceeds $15 million.

"It is never easy to make cuts," Councilman John Cranley said. "We were trying to the greatest extent possible to avoid layoffs."

Reece added: "This budget responds directly to the taxpayers. We heard you loud and clear when you said you wanted to see your money come home."


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