The Massachusetts State Police is, for the first time, equipping patrol officers with weapons that deliver electric charges.
The force announced Thursday it's spending $1 million to buy 895 electronic control weapons (ECWs), known by the brand name of Taser.
“The less-lethal option offered by ECWs increases not only officer safety but also safety of suspects,” State Police Col. Richard McKeon said in a statement. “They are a tool that will help resolve hostile confrontations before they escalate into situations requiring lethal force.”
According to the statement, the "delivery of the electric charge temporarily interferes with the suspect’s ability to move, allowing officers to gain control and custody."
The statement said the department has conducted "extensive" training in the use of Tasers. Troopers will begin carrying the Tasers immediately.
Until now, only members of the State Police Special Tactical Operations Team were equipped with Tasers, the force said in the statement.
Each use of the weapon is required to be reported, per department policy.
A state report, released in September, calculated that police officers used or threatened to use a Taser or stun gun more than 1,000 times in 2014.
Though Tasers are known as a method of "less lethal force," deaths have followed their use.
As Peter Moskos, of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told NPR in January: "[Taser use] is not a guaranteed nonlethal use of force."
With reporting by WBUR's Newscast Unit and Benjamin Swasey