Photos and story by Susan Mikula Campbell
Thanks to a $1,449.54 donation by the Town of Niagara Police Club, officers in the town's police department will have access to another Taser unit.
The new unit brings the number of Tasers in the department to five, according to Officer Craig Guiliani, Police Club president, who presented the check at Tuesday's Town Board meeting. Currently, full-time officers carry a Taser when on patrol. This addition will allow the department's two part-timers to carry one when on shift, he said.
A Taser is a weapon that gives off an electronic shock that interferes with control of muscles.
"It's safer for the public and it's safer for the officer," Guiliani said. "It's taking the 'deadly force' down a notch."
Not that the non-lethal weapon doesn't hurt. Six of the department's officers volunteered to be Tasered (without the barbs that attach to the skin), so they would know what it feels like. There was a lot of yelling.
"It feels like when you stick your finger in a socket and get shocked," said Guiliani, who added he had two small burn marks from the Taser on the back of his thigh. Still, he pointed out, he'd rather get hit by a Taser than a bullet.
Officers are trained to yell "Taser, Taser, Taser!" when they use the weapon, so everyone around them knows a Taser is being fired.
A Taser might have made a difference in a domestic incident call in January. Two officers scuffled with an enraged male suspect. One officer had to have knee surgery as a result and is expected to be off work for about a year, Guiliani said.
In other matters at Tuesday's meeting:
•Board members reminded the public that the Town of Niagara's first town-wide cleanup day starts at 8 a.m. Saturday, April 21, rain or shine. Volunteers should meet at the town highway garage on Lockport Road to be issued gloves, a safety vest and a lunch wristband. Lunch will be served for the volunteers in Veterans Memorial Park after the cleanup. Call 297-2150, ext. 142, to sign up.
Belden Center Block Club President Cheryl Reed has organized a cleanup in her neighborhood for several years. This year, she joined with Councilman Charles Teixeira and Highway Superintendent Robert Herman to move the effort town-wide.
Residents who don't volunteer for the official town-wide cleanup are urged to clean up in front of their own homes or businesses or organize a neighborhood cleanup.
"We're trying to get the town cleaned up for our bicentennial year," said Teixeira.
•The board approved a tent rental deposit of $1,512.50 for the town's major Bicentennial Weekend, June 30 to July 1. Total rental charge is $3,025. The Hodgson Russ law firm is the sponsor of the tent.
•The board approved a new fee of $25 for temporary sign permits. Deputy Supervisor Marc Carpenter, who led Tuesday's meeting, explained the fee was reduced from $200 and allows use of 30-day temporary portable signs for businesses.
•The board approved a resolution to pay E.I. Team Architecture 80 percent of the balance or $40,000 for bid repacking on the town's community center project. The project was revised when bids came in higher than expected. The next step will be to go over the recently received new bids on the revised project and decide whether or not to accept them, Carpenter said.
•The board accepted the resignation of Richard Halleen from the town's Planning Board. Halleen currently is serving on the Niagara-Wheatfield Board of Education.
•The board appointed Susan Kotlarz as recreation director, replacing Lee Wallace. She also will continue as parks manager.
•The board approved the junkyard renewal licenses for Metalico Niagara Inc. on Maple Avenue and Kach's Auto Service on Witmer Road.
•The board also accepted one-year renewals of special use permits for motor vehicle sales from Halleen's Wholesale Inc. and Hertz Corp., both on Military Road.