Pennsylvania School District Police Equipped with Tasers

Pennsylvania School District Police Equipped with Tasers

Erie School District police officers are now carrying Tasers in addition to guns in schools.

Police officers in the Erie School District are now carrying Tasers in schools in addition to guns.

Officers on the Erie School District police force began sharing six Tasers on Monday. School officials said the officers on the 18-member force completed training with the City of Erie police on March 29.

Officers are armed with Tasers mostly for use on intruders, according to district officials. Police do not anticipate using Tasers on students except “if we have an absolute extreme case,” said Neal Brokman, executive director of operations.

“We are talking about protecting students and staff in our buildings from people who may come into the buildings,” Brokman said.

Brokman said the addition of Tasers gives district police a non-lethal weapon option and puts the district’s officer’s equipment on the same level as that of the Erie police, whose officers often help the Erie School District police.

According to district records, the district purchased the Tasers in November. While the district has recently been dealing with reports of fighting at Erie High, the district’s largest school, officials said the purchase of the Tasers is unrelated to any problems with student behavior.

“We would hope they never have to use them,” Brokman said of the district police.

With the addition of the Tasers, district police officers now carry the same equipment as the Erie County deputy sheriffs who work as school resource officers at the Erie County Technical School and for six Erie County school districts.

Erie County Sheriff John Loomis said the Tasers “represent another part of the force continuum and can quell a situation without anyone getting injured. Especially inside of a school, if need be.”

Not all 18 of the Erie School District police officers will carry Tasers, said Tim Vona, chief of the district’s police force. Five of the officers are full-time and 13 work part-time.

Vona said the six Tasers cost $964 each, including warranties, for a total of $5,784.

The Tasers are part of Erie School District’s plans to bolster school security. Other steps taken by the district include the addition of a smartphone app for notifications, an online tipline and swipe-card access systems on schools’ exterior doors.

Vona said the Tasers are “another tool in our toolbox.”