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Montgomery County Council to review Taser use

The Montgomery County Council's public safety committee announced Thursday that it has scheduled a hearing next month to review the county police department's Taser policies.

The decision to hold an oversight hearing came a day after Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett asked the department to examine its use of the stun guns and review investigations into four deaths of people shocked by county officers since 2009.

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The calls for reviews came in response to a six-month investigation by The Baltimore Sun into how police across Maryland use the weapons. The Sun found that officers frequently failed to follow best practices identified by the U.S. Department of Justice and Taser International.

"Some oversight is needed," said County Councilman Tom Hucker, a member of the council's public safety committee. "I think the findings in The Sun's report are extremely troubling."

Dale Tibbitts, chief of staff for Councilman Marc Elrich, chairman of the public safety committee, said the council "wants to get out in front of the public so everyone knows where were are on the issue."

The committee hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. April 28.

"We have to make sure there are guidelines and policies in place with the intention of avoiding unintended consequences" when using Tasers, Hucker said. "The use of Tasers reported in the article is out of compliance with Taser's own recommendations, and whether there ought to be additional guidelines in the county is an open question."

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