Police will pack Tasers

BAR HARBOR — Bar Harbor police officers soon will carry individually assigned Tasers. The Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the  purchase of 12 of the electroshock weapons used to temporarily disable a person in a confrontation.

The Mount Desert Police Department, with which the Bar Harbor PD now works closely, has issued Tasers to their officers since 2012. Mount Desert officers have used Tasers in incidents here, Police Chief James Willis told councilors.

“Last summer, a fight broke out in a parking lot after a bar closed. The crowd got bigger than expected. The guy that got Tased was a mixed martial arts fighter. It turned out he was trying to break up the fight, but he thanked us for Tasing him because he was going to seriously hurt someone.”

Willis said the recognizable yellow-handled Taser often serves as a deterrent. “I was a slow convert, but I became convinced after I watched other agencies around the state.”

“Recently, several of our police officers approached me to stress … the importance of having individually assigned Tasers,” Willis wrote in a memo. “They offered to donate money from the Bar Harbor Police Association’s funds to help facilitate the purchase.”

Officer Soren Sundberg is the department’s use-of-force instructor and was recently certified as a Taser trainer. That included being exposed to a Taser shock himself. “He’s in pretty high demand around the state,” Willis said. Councilors and other interested community members will be invited to demonstrations as part of training.

A five-year plan to pay $26,159 for the equipment, including maintenance and warranty, is to be split between a Police Association donation, cruise ship passenger fee funds, council contingency funds and a capital improvements program (CIP) account.

After an initial down payment this year, future payments will require increasing the annual contribution to that CIP account from $3,000 per year to $3,900 per year, Willis said.




Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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