ST ANN, Mo. — A local law enforcement agency is changing its policies and equipment to prevent a police shooting tragedy like the one that happened in Brooklyn Center, Minn.
The St. Ann Police Department is changing Taser protocols after reviewing their policies.
“We always want to stay ahead of any issue that may arise,” St. Anne Police Captain Jason West said.
On Sunday, police officer Kim Potter fatally shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright in a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, a city next to Minneapolis. The city's police chief claimed the shooting was accidental, saying the officer meant to use her Taser instead of her gun. Potter was arrested.
The St. Ann Police Department is using the shooting as a teachable moment. The department is swapping black tasers for yellow Tasers. They are also requiring officers to change where they carry the Taser.
These changes will happen in the next 90 days.
“We are going to make it policy that you are carrying it opposite your main weapon,” West said.
Several times a year, officers will go through training forcing them to make decisions on the dime.
“It’s a life or death situation and you’ve got to make a quick decision that’s life-changing,” the officer of 26 years said. “Your life, the suspect’s life, someone’s in the area (are in the officer’s hands).”
This is the department’s way of looking in the mirror and seeing how they can improve. West said these measures continue to build trust in the community.
“We have a great city with residents that support us,” West said. This is just one more thing that I hope everyone sees that’s good for everyone."
5 On Your Side asked David Klinger, a University of Missouri – St. Louis professor, if the changes will make a difference. He says that Tasers could be confused for firearms in a fast-paced situation.
"Trying to understand why officers sometimes mistake their service pistols for Tasers is difficult, because, on its face, it would seem that it shouldn’t happen. But, like many things involving humans, what seems unbelievable can come to pass. Tasers have the same basic look and feel as the semi-automatic handguns that officers carry, and the company that makes them (now called “Axon”) has sought to make Tasers appear and feel less like police service pistols as time has moved on."
Klinger says Axon has offered more Taser colors to prevent this confusion.
The changes in St. Ann are consistent with efforts to increase safety, Klinger said.