Holyoke police using stun guns to keep streets safer - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Holyoke police using stun guns to keep streets safer

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Just the sound and sight of a stun gun is enough to get some suspects to back down at an altercation.

Now Holyoke Police Chief James Neiswanger is using them to tackle crime in his city.

"I think they are a great tool, and they're going to make things safer out on the streets of Holyoke," he said.

Police say the use of an electric shock keeps their guns in their holsters, substituting gun use for a five-second span of discomfort, making everyone at a crime scene safer .

Neiswanger told CBS 3 the stun guns reduce deadly force, reduce suspect and officer injuries and even save the department money.

Currently, the department spends more than $20,000 a month on officer injuries.

"My officers are getting hurt arresting people, this is going to cut down on that," Neiswanger said.

Residents CBS 3 spoke with in Holyoke said they are relieved to see stun guns in the hands of officers, saying it will make them feel safer.

"Guns kill people, the [stun guns] don't. We have to stop what's going on in this city and that's the only way we can do it," said Julia Rivera, Holyoke.

A national debate surrounding the use of stun guns is ongoing.

Critics complain about overuse and several deaths worldwide that could be potentially linked to the stun guns.

But residents here say they'd like to see police have an easier time arresting criminals.

"It would help them to get the criminals off the streets," said Theresa Fanaras, who is from Holyoke.

"As a parent in this community, we want this to get better," Rivera said.

All of this was reviewed by the state. The officers have been given extensive training on using the stun guns - each officer carrying one goes through an eight-hour training course plus a yearly refresher course.

Half a dozen are out in use on the streets.

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