PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Port St. Lucie police are making a big investment in new police technology. On Wednesday, training officers were getting their first look at the new Tasers and body cams that every officer will be outfitted with in the coming months.
“This is a chance for us to use new technology, leverage the best we can to serve our community in a safer way,” Police Chief Richard Del Toro said.
Del Toro said the goal with law enforcement nationwide with these weapons is to reduce the number of fatal police gun deaths by half over the next 10 years.
“Reduce injuries to our officers, to any suspects we might be dealing with and provide better transparency with the camera system to document incidents where we can celebrate the success or learn from any mistakes and how to get better.”
In the last two years, Port St. Lucie police have had 283 use of force situations and 44 were resolved by the use of a taser.
“Deadly encounters have been an issue for law enforcement for years, and what we’re doing is trying to find different ways to avoid those encounters,” Del Toro said.
The new Taser allows an officer to fire up to 10 darts, up from two, allowing for more effective deployments.
“Wider the spread of the darts, the better you have a chance of incapacitating the combative individual,” Master Officer Scott Johnson said.
Police said one of the biggest advantages is that they can now be accurate now from 45 feet away. That’s nearly double what the old Tasers could do.
Will Armstead, the CEO of the St. Lucie County Boys and Girls Clubs, said with several members of law enforcement on his board, he’s in favor of ways to improve the ties between the police and the community.
“I love the fact they’re looking at all kind of opportunities to deescalate issues that happen with our young people,” Armstead said.
The million dollar annual cost of the Tasers and body cameras is part of the departments push for better overall officer training, with a new $25 million dollar training facility on the horizon.
Other local agencies are also upgrading. The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office is also moving to the new Tasers, while the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office plans to add the newest body cameras soon.