LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A city council public safety panel voted on Monday to continue purchasing Tasers from a Scottsdale-based company, despite an ongoing economic boycott of Arizona.
In the motion — which was approved by the Los Angeles City Council’s Public Safety Committee without discussion — Councilman Greig Smith wrote that Taser International Inc. should be exempted from the economic boycott because various local public safety agencies need its stun guns and no other company can provide the service satisfactorily.
“The Los Angeles Police Department, Airport Police, Harbor Police and General Services Office of Public Safety deploy these high-voltage devices to their sworn personnel,” Smith said.
“No other company provides Taser-compatible dart cartridges and related equipment, nor maintenance and repair of devices manufactured by this company,” he said. “Further, current warranties would be invalidated should the city attempt to contract with another vendor for maintenance services.”
The council voted in May to bar all official travel to Arizona and to consider terminating certain contracts with businesses in that state after Arizona officials passed a tough anti-immigration law.
SB 1070 seeks to let police officers check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws, and to make it a crime not to carry immigration documents.
In response to legal challenges by the Obama administration and civil rights groups, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton put the law’s most controversial provisions on hold in July.
The constitutionality of the law is now being debated by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Since approving the economic boycott, the council has granted exemptions to American Traffic Solutions, which operates the city’s red light cameras; and to Blue Van Joint Venture, which operates SuperShuttle vans at LAX.
Smith — who was the only council member to vote in May against the economic boycott of Arizona — argued Monday that it was important to continue working with the city’s current supplier of Tasers.
“The LAPD reports there are only two companies that offer these types of devices to law enforcement agencies,” he said. “LAPD has conducted testing and evaluation of a similar device developed by Taser’s competitor, (and) the results were consistently poor with the devices malfunctioning.”
Smith said the city should continue working with Taser International because “there is no other viable option.”
He urged the LAPD, however, to monitor developments in the field of use-of-force devices and see if the city can work with another company based outside of Arizona in the future.
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