Iowa city drops raffle to shoot official with stun gun

Van Meter, Iowa — The small Iowa city of Van Meter has dropped plans for a raffle that would have let the winner shock an official with a stun gun.

Bill Daggett, the police chief in the community of 1,000 west of Des Moines, told The Des Moines Register on Tuesday that officials have changed plans after facing criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and others who learned of the raffle through the media. The ACLU had questioned whether it was safe or appropriate to shock an official, even if the effort was for a good cause.

Money raised by selling $5 raffle tickets was intended to help the police department buy a second squad car, add speed radar and potentially expand its six-member part-time and reserve force. The city administrator and a City Council member had volunteered to be stunned at a celebration Saturday, with the winner choosing which official would be shocked.

“I am pleased to hear that Van Meter has listened to the very important concerns raised about the Taser raffle. I hope that this has resulted in a better understanding of how dangerous Tasers can be, and the need to ensure that they are only used by properly trained law enforcement personnel operating under clear policies,” said ACLU of Iowa Director Jeremy Rosen.

The raffle will continue, but the winner will be able to shoot the stun gun at a target.

Daggett said businesses also promised to make donations to Van Meter if officials canceled their plans to stun an official.

“We never expected to have national or international attention or expected to have companies say we’ll help you out,” he said.