BART Police officers are now once again allowed to carry Tasers if they so choose. All 196 officers have completed the required updated training on when to use their Tasers and where to holster them.
On April 15, BART Interim Chief of Police Daschel Butler temporarily suspended the Taser program for two reasons. First, he wanted to make sure that BART's Taser policy conformed with federal court rulings, which said the only time an officer can use a Taser is if the suspect poses an immediate threat of bodily harm to either the officer's life or another person's life. The second reason was to revise the Taser policy to limit officers to wearing their Taser on just one spot of their body instead of in three possible locations, which the State of California has approved.
During the temporary suspension period, the police department determined its current Taser policy did comply with the federal court rulings. Additionally, the police department used the temporary suspension period to ensure all officers received DVD and hands-on training about the update policy's requirement to wear their Taser in one location only - which is the "weak arm, weak side draw" position, on the opposite side of their body from their firearm. For example, if the officer is right-handed, the Taser must be positioned on the left side, opposite from the side where their firearm is placed. Additionally, the Taser must be drawn with only the left hand.
"Although it was legal to carry Tasers in three different positions on the body, we felt the smartest and most prudent course of action was to restrict officers to wearing their Tasers in just one location on their body - their weak side," BART Police Patrol Division Commander Daniel Hartwig said. "This restriction streamlines our Taser policy so it's uniform, it's simple and most importantly it's safe."
Each officer who chooses to carry a Taser will be assigned a personal holster in which to carry it. The Taser itself will be picked up by officers at the start of a shift and turned in at the end of the shift.
Updated: June 22, 2010 / clarified federal court rulings