Around Town | April 27, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - April 27, 2012

Around Town

BUZZKILL ... Tasers were once a hot topic in Palo Alto, where the City Council narrowly approved their use in 2007. But after a few high-profile incidents, including an instance in 2008 in which an officer allegedly lured a man from his van and shot him with a Taser (the city was ordered to pay a $35,000 settlement in the case), stun guns have entered a period of lull. Two years ago, the police department revised its Taser policy, raising the bar for when deployment of Tasers should be allowed. Under the new standard, the suspect must "pose an immediate threat of physical injury before firing a Taser is appropriate." The city's independent police auditor, Michael Gennaco, wrote in a recent biannual report that there haven't been any Taser incidents in the period between August 2011 and January 2012 — the third straight reporting period in which there weren't any Taser firings. Gennaco also found that the recent slew of retirements in the high ranks of the Palo Alto Police Department has had little impact on the quality of its internal investigations. He wrote that there has been some "transitional confusion" and that the new personnel has been "somewhat tardy" in its communications with the auditor. Still, he gave the department generally high marks for its handling of investigations during the time of major staffing changes, which includes the departure of a lieutenant in charge of internal affairs. "We anticipated that this might challenge the ability of PAPD to maintain quality and continuity in internal affairs investigations," Gennaco wrote. "We are pleased to observe that recent investigations appear to be of good quality and have been completed promptly."

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