I-TEAM: Do some Cleveland police officers have to patrol without tasers?

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-TEAM now investigating the safety of officers and you after Cleveland Division of Police said they have a shortage of tasers.

Police rely on tasers to help control dangerous suspects and avoid using deadly force.

But, a recent internal memo titled “Taser Inventory Shortage” says supplies are “very low.” And, for now, if a taser isn’t working, officers will not be issued a replacement.

We’ve learned Cleveland Police are looking at buying another newer kind of taser than the one used now.

The shortage has some officers and civil rights watchdogs concerned.

This comes to light as a deadly police shooting has sparked rioting in Philadelphia, and the officers involved there did not have tasers.

“I think it’s incumbent upon the police department to ensure there’s not an officer who’s out in the field that may be put into a situation where they need to use some form of force and are only able to resort to deadly force,” said Danielle Sydnor, leader of the Cleveland branch of the NAACP.

Cleveland Police say the department is taking steps to make sure any officer walking out the door to have contact with the public will have a taser. Right now, only about 45 do not.

And the department is taking tasers away from officers who don’t need them, say for example, in headquarters, getting them to police on the streets.

Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia, spokesperson for the Department issued a statement saying, “The Cleveland Division of Police has NOT discontinued the use of tasers. The Division is currently in the process of upgrading taser models and is now testing the Taser 7. Due to the upgrade, the City of Cleveland is no longer purchasing the older model and some tasers have been taken out of service due to being rendered unusable. Of the 1,074 officers assigned to Field Operations,  less than 5% of officers do not currently have a taser.”

Police Union President Jeff Follmer says tasers can make a big difference in tense situations.

“It’s a nice tool. It’s something that helps us so that we don’t have to go hands-on,” he added. “I’m fairly confident the city will adjust.”

It’s not clear when the City will actually buy the new tasers for Cleveland Police, but we’ve learned testing is starting on one new model.

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