Essential to maintain strong community ties

By Daily Illini Editorial Board

The Urbana City Council recently approved the purchase of Tasers for their police department, which was met by much criticism and questioned by many Urbana residents.

We previously commented on the issue in May after the request for Tasers was made by the Urbana Police Department, pointing out the necessity for police to appropriately acknowledge and address the many concerns of Urbana citizens regarding the fear and danger surrounding the use of Tasers. At that time, we did not believe increasing police Tasers was an adequate solution, especially because of so much public outcry.

Though this topic may cause a divide between the city council and some residents, it should be taken as an opportunity to work together toward a common goal: the safety of all who reside in Urbana.

Now in place, the use of Tasers should be seen as a non-deadly defense in only calamitous situations; citizens should be open to this possibility and likewise, the city council should be open to accepting any concerns from citizens regarding the use of these weapons.

The city council has shown how much it values the voices of its citizens by instituting a Civilian Police Review Board to oversee the use of these devices after they’re being used by officers.

By instituting the Civilian Police Review Board, the city council has also given their residents a more permanent and more viable way to have their opinions and voices heard if an issue regarding the use of Tasers comes up during their review.

Allowing residents to join in on the conversation regarding incidents when Tasers are used will go a long way in calming many of the concerns that have been voiced about the uses of these devices.

The ordinance allowing the purchase of these Tasers also requires officers utilizing Tasers to complete a training requirement, thus minimizing the potential misuse of these devices.

As noted by many of their opponents, Tasers do present the possibility of misuse. However, by placing trust in the public officials that have been voted into office by the general public, residents should believe that these individuals have their best interest at heart.

These protocols instated by the Urbana City Council will hopefully go a long way in making the public feel safer about their use. By having the council work hand in hand with Urbana residents, they will preferably be able to reach an accord that will satisfy the need of all parties involved.

In light of numerous national issues regarding police and community relations as of late, it is necessary that the relationship between the two remains civil and strong to promote a safe community environment.