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Common Council reviews Syracuse police taser use

The Syracuse Common Council took a closer look on Monday at the city police department's use of tasers.
Updated at 5:52 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 19:

Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – The Syracuse Common Council took a closer look on Monday at the city police department's use of tasers.

The Common Council is taking the step after Centro bus surveillance video surfaced showing Syracuse Police officers using a taser on a disabled man, Brad Hulett.

City leaders are hoping to learn how many times police use non-lethal force such as tasers or pepper spray – and possible changes to the department’s policies.

Although the incident on the bus sparked the meeting, the council stressed that the specifics of that case were not the substance of the meeting.

“I'm not interested in following up on the specific case, as much as I am on the Syracuse Police Department,” said Syracuse Common Council Member Lance Denno.

Hulett was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct as a result of the incident.

He is suing the Centro bus service, Onondaga County, and the city of Syracuse.

The Common Council listened to concerns from different groups, including the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Police Benevolent Association.

Common Council member Joseph Lipari said the Syracuse Police Department’s policy on force did not compare favorably with a policy they examined from the Las Vegas Police Department.

“It's very specific. If you compare it to the SPD policy, you'll see the SPD policy is very general, evaluating standards and reviewing use of force after the fact,” said Council member Joseph Lipari.

The Las Vegas policy was designed in cooperation with the US Department of Justice. It defines when using a taser is appropriate and details different levels of escalation.

The Las Vegas policy also cautions against using tasers on disabled people.

Council member Jake Barrett asked Syracuse Police if their policy should be tightened. He received a written response:

“We feel our existing policy is a good one. Didn't say an adequate one, a good one,” Barrett said, referencing the note.

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