Berlin police on Monday, Feb. 6, began a three-year test with tasers in hopes of reducing the number of police-related shootings, according to the Tagesspiegel.
The Polizei purchased 20 tasers at a cost of €1,100 each for experimental use in specific districts within Kreuzberg and Mitte.
Tasers have been in use with the force’s elite SEK division for the past 16 years but have only been used 24 times, including once against a dog. The device failed once, allowing a mentally unstable individual to commit suicide by jumping from a building, according to the Tagesspiegel.
Critics have opposed the use of tasers in Germany for years, citing fatalities related to the weapons, primarily in the U.S. The weapons will be legally classified as firearms, according to the paper, and will include data recording devices to capture all use.
Other German states classify the weapons at the same level as pepper spray.
“We have the toughest regulations in the country,” police trainer Thomas Drechsler was quoted by the paper.
Many politicians remain opposed to the test.
“After three years of (former Interior Minister Frank) Henkel (CDU), we don’t deserve to be made available to the police as guinea pigs and a training ground,” Kreuzberg Mayor Monika Herrmann (Grüne) said.
Earlier this month police shot and killed a mentally ill subject who had barricaded himself in his apartment. Observers had wondered if tasers wouldn’t have been a viable option in that shooting but the taser-equipped SEK were busy at an unrelated raid.