Kaua‘i Police Department officers will likely begin carrying Tasers by the end of August, Chief Darryl Perry said at yesterday morning’s Police Commission meeting in the Historic County Building.
Perry answered Commission Chair Thomas Iannucci’s question about KPD’s progress in implementing the Tasers by saying that the department already had them “in house” and was “almost done” establishing a policy of procedure regarding their use.
When pressed further by Iannucci to put a timetable on the Tasers’ implementation, Perry assured the commissioners that the new equipment would be in use by “the end of August at the latest.”
According to Perry, seven of 20 KPD Tasers are already out on patrol with specially certified and authorized instructing sergeants and officers, but none have been used in any police operation during the “month or so” they have been available.
The instructors will be training the remainder of the police force in the Tasers’ use over the coming weeks, after which Kaua‘i will become the last of the main Hawaiian islands to employ Tasers.
Perry said that the Tasers will serve mainly as a deterrent, noting that many criminal suspects will recognize the equipment and want to avoid their use.
The Tasers will oftentimes be used instead of police batons, fitting on the “continuum of force” somewhere between mace and firearms.
Perry said that Tasers are safer than batons.
An additional measure of security associated with their use is an automatic digital camera built into the Taser. When the weapon is turned on, the camera records audio and video, which Iannucci described as a “check valve” preventing unnecessary use.
Perry said that KPD’s newly-formed Internal Affairs unit would likely be handling the downloading of all video after incidents in which Tasers are deployed.
The KPD is also currently in the process of procuring 20 additional Tasers, Perry said.
Earlier in the meeting, Sgt. Bernard Purisima was recognized by Perry as July’s employee of the month for his work in responding to an April burglary.
Officers George Laccone, Colin Nesbit, Paris Resinto and Kapena Wilson were all honored as employees of the month for June in connection with the same incident.
On April 9, Manuel Harding Andrade, Jr., of Lawa‘i, allegedly burglarized Kauai Coffee Co. headquarters in Kalaheo.
According to Wilson, Purisima was in a meeting at the time, but heard the police scanner and left to join the officers at the scene.
An officer tried to arrest Andrade, but he resisted, according to county officials. Andrade then reportedly stole a Kaua‘i Coffee pick-up truck and almost ran over two officers while fleeing the scene.
Andrade continued to drive recklessly, heading westbound on Kaumuali‘i Highway until he crashed into a guardrail in the vicinity of ‘Ele‘ele Shopping Center.
When police attempted to subdue the man, he again resisted arrest, assaulting and injuring two officers.
“Sgt. Purisima has done a great job out there setting an example of what a leader should do,” Perry said in his commendation report yesterday.
The charges related to the case are first-degree attempted murder, first-degree attempted assault of an officer, second-degree assault, second-degree assault of an officer, second-degree burglary, unauthorized control of a vehicle, first-degree criminal property damage, two counts of first-degree terroristic threatening, resisting arrest and resisting an order to stop a vehicle.
When Andrade was finally taken into custody, contraband was reportedly discovered, leading to additional charges of possession of drug paraphernalia and third-degree promotion of both a dangerous drug and a detrimental drug.
Andrade remains in custody, according to a spokesperson for the county prosecutor’s office, with the aggregate bail for multiple cases in which he is a defendant set at more than $1 million.
Trial is scheduled for August 11.