Since its debut in 1999, the M26 has been followed up with the X26, a 60-percent lighter model, then with the X3 in 2009, which Taser claims can simultaneously incapacitate up to three subjects. The latest piece of tech from Taser is a self-contained 12-gauge shotgun round, the extended range electronic projectile or XREP, which is a wireless ECD that deploys from a shotgun. The XREP is released in conjunction with a special less-lethal system that Taser and Mossberg call a "less-lethal shotgun," a Mossberg 500 pump-action shotgun retooled to project the XREP less-lethal round.
Prices vary between units but begin at around $815 for the X26; $600 for the X12 shotgun and $750 for a box of 5 XREPs; and approximately $1,700 for an X3 triple-ECD discharge system.
Local Dothan officials were apprehensive about the second-hand sale proposal. Concerns were raised about how the department might be liable once the used Tasers were at work with another agency. Bissette says some of the fears stemmed simply from outside misunderstanding about Taser technology, which he easily cleared up with facts and figures on the ECD. To be sure DPD had all its bases covered, he also says he gave the Taser legal department a call. He learned that as long as he had the buying agency sign a liability release document -- also called a "hold harmless" agreement -- the department was not on the hook for any legal responsibility, which helped give the green light to put the surplus older models up for purchase.
The department decided to divvy some of the units up amongst its affiliate security agents, such as the non-sworn police auxiliary team, nearby Dothan Regional Airport agents, and the animal control team, for example. After those contributions, DPD had approximately 70 units to sell for $100 each to qualified law enforcement agencies, with a total possible intake of $7,000. Though the income from the second-hand sales would not directly go toward the new purchase; the money was placed into the city fund, which is where the agency draws its budget.
Dothan Police didn't get rich off the sale; however, multiple benefits were borne from the second-hand sale plan.
Originally for the 110 M26 units that were purchased in 2003, DPD spent approximately $44,000, which leaves a rather large gap after figuring in the nearly $5,500 recouped so far from sales, but does amount to an approximate 25-percent return for each unit sold. Working with that same equation, buying agencies were able to save $300 off the cost of an M26, which initially retailed for $400. That's a rollover that adds up quickly when a handful of units are acquired. The cost break also benefits departments that may not have the ability to purchase this kind of less-lethal tool, and multiplies the number of officers equipped with Tasers.
Bissette says that though neighboring agencies are now carrying the older M26 units, the department still benefits from them. The tools come in handy during mutual aid for emergencies or multi-agency response, such as during a disaster.
Bissette says there is not any maintenance or refurbishing procedure for the units they sell or donate second-hand. He explains the ECDs are function checked, operational and sold in as-is condition. The department also has receiving agencies sign the "hold harmless" document which releases Dothan from any liability relating to the equipment once it's owned and in use by another law enforcement agency. The cartridges from the M26 models, the older units Dothan is selling, will work on the newer and now-deployed X26s, but no other accessories were retained by the department. Holsters were included in the sale but no cartridges, batteries or chargers.
Equip with less-lethal for less
X26s have been used by the department supervisors since 2003; in 2009 the entire sworn population was outfitted with an X26 unit. Now every officer is assigned an X26 Taser device and once qualified, carries it full time. In early August the units were on patrol with officers -- as is the case every day Bissette says -- during National Night Out in Dothan.
While some agencies are finding the budget dollars to renew their Tasers, other agencies can benefit from their neighbor's upgrade.
Though Taser finds the move to sell second-hand units clever, Tuttle confirms the M26 will retire soon. "Frankly, this is the end of life for the M26: we just can't keep buying these components," Tuttle says. "[These older components are] harder to find and the warranties have expired. So it really makes sense economically to upgrade."