COLUMBIA — Deputy Police Chief Tom Dresner had a simple reaction to the overwhelming defeat of the Taser ban.
"We're delighted," he said. "We feel like it's a solid vote of confidence from the citizens of our city."
Proposition 2 would have banned the use or the threat to use Tasers in Columbia by law enforcement and citizens. Over 77 percent of those who voted opposed the ban. The final vote was 24,679 no to 7,327 yes.
"We are going to continue to use the Taser responsibly with accountability and oversight," Dresner said.
He pointed out that the organization that sought the Taser ban was involved in the process that helped establish the Columbia Police Department's current standards for the weapon's use.
In May 2009, the police adopted the guidelines for the use of Tasers and increased the amount of training required.
"Ever since (anti-Taser activists) became involved, they've advocated for more training and more oversight, and we have bent over backwards to meet them over and over again, and yet, that still isn't enough for those groups," Dresner said.
Ed Berg, a Columbia lawyer who represented People for a Taser-Free Columbia, said everyone who worked to make Columbia Taser-free is disappointed the ban didn't pass. But he didn't see the group's efforts as a total failure.
"We need to evaluate what we have achieved," Berg said. "And we've achieved a great deal."
Berg wants to focus on the prevention of dangerous Taser use.
"We don't want to play Russian roulette with the Taser," Berg said.
Organizer Mary Hussmann said People for a Taser-Free Columbia had learned a great deal in the process of trying to control and then ban Taser use, but she said she didn't think most people in Columbia understand how dangerous the weapon can be.
As for future plans, she said the group had been so focused on the Proposition 2 effort that it hadn't given any thought to the future.
As far as Dresner is concerned, the issue is settled. "Really I just hope that the citizens of Columbia are ready to move on to other things," he said.