WELLINGTON, New Zealand --
New Zealand police will arm some officers with Taser stun guns after a yearlong trial showed the effectiveness of the weapon, the nation's police chief said Thursday.
Commissioner Howard Broad said he had earlier made the decision to deploy Tasers but delayed it to seek input from lawmakers.
"As I understand the conventions that exist, it was quite proper for me to seek input," he said.
The main political parties immediately supported the introduction of Tasers except for the minority Green Party, which called it "a very sad day for policing in New Zealand."
Police Minister Annette King told Parliament Wednesday that police planned to deploy the Taser as part of their "tactical options framework," but wanted a response from lawmakers before introducing the weapon.
Handcuffs, batons and pepper spray have limitations, leaving "a gap between those tactical options and the use of lethal force," she said.
"What is needed is a less-than-lethal option that protects the police, the public and the individuals concerned," King said.
Tasers are a pistol-shaped weapon that deliver 50,000 volts of electricity into a person's body. The result is excruciatingly painful, usually causing a person to fall to the ground.
King said in trials conducted over a yearlong period in New Zealand, Tasers were discharged by police in 19 incidents, 16 involving weapons brandished by suspects.
"Injuries to individuals and officers were minor despite the serious circumstances of incidents," said King.
Tasers will be secured in police vehicles and deployed only on approval by a supervisor, she said.
Broad said the introduction of Tasers likely will alter the policies and decision making surrounding the use of guns by police.
Broad said trials had shown that there were clear situations where without a Taser the best option would have been to use a gun. New Zealand police do not carry guns, but have them available as needed.