HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — In 2014, the Connecticut General Assembly set policies and regulations for the use of stun guns, after lawmakers say constituents expressed concerns over their use. At that time the Assembly asked police departments to begin recording data about incidents involving the use of stun guns and this week released the first annual report on their findings.
Out of 79 reporting departments, there were 100,000 arrests and 600,000 traffic stops. Out of those, 610 involved the use or threat of a stun gun. The results show that minorities are more likely to have a stun gun used on them than whites. In reported incidents, 53 percent were minorities compared to 48 percent white.
Hispanics shot with stun guns by police in Connecticut in 2015 were also more likely to be fired upon multiple times than other racial groups, according to the analysis. State Senator Gary Winfield helped to pass the bill requiring the stun gun policies.
“I think that stun guns are supposed to operate in a non lethal way but the go to ability of a stun gun makes it dangerous actually,” said Winfield.
According to the report officers fired the weapons, as opposed to merely brandishing them, 60 percent of the time in confrontations involving whites, 81 percent of the time in those involving blacks and 66 percent of the time in those involving Hispanics. The report says in 83-percent of the cases the person was unarmed. 49 percent of the suspects were under the influence of either drugs or alcohol when the stun guns were used.
State Representative Stephen Dargan is chair of the Public Safety and Security Committee. He says the study and gathering of data is the first program of its kind in the United States.
“With what’s going on in our country right now we have to build up more trust between our communities and our law enforcement community and we think this is a positive step to do that,” said Dargan.
While lawmakers are still reviewing the data, they say they will continue to collect the information each year but the preliminary findings show there is still work to be done.
“What it says to me is what i think many of us already suspect, that interactions between the police and minority communities aren’t always what we expect them to be and that we need to do a better job,” said Senator Winfield.