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BART Unanimously Approves Tasers For Officers

OAKLAND (KCBS) – A request by the Bay Area Rapid Transit Police Department to purchase 130 Tasers for officers has been unanimously approved by the agency's board of directors.

Currently, the department has 60 Tasers available, meaning many officers aren't equipped with the stun guns.

KCBS' Bob Melrose Reports:

In a report to the board, staff members said that arming each officer with a Taser would increase their comfort level with the weapons.

The issue of officer training and familiarity with the weapons was raised by lawyers for former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for fatally shooting Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale BART Station on the morning of January 1, 2009.

Mehserle admitted that he shot and killed Grant, but claimed he had meant to use his Taser. His lawyers argued that he wasn't properly trained on how to use the weapon.

BART Director Lynette Sweet said that getting officers trained properly and above the level of state recommendations was a key aspect of the agreement.

"Everybody else gets 24 hours (of training) every two years," she said. "Our officers will get 40 hours every year."

The board can spend up to $141,000 to purchase the Tasers, which are expected to be in the hands of officers before the current fiscal year ends on June 30.

The weapons will be painted yellow, accentuating the difference from a firearm.

(Copyright 2011 by CBSSan Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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