Consolidation Brings More Tasers

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By WGXA Staff

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Updated: Wed, 27 Nov 2013 02:35:49 EST

If you're ever hit by one, it may give you a shock.

Tasers...They're not the newest law enforcement weapon out there, but they are the most recent tool for the Macon Police Department.

"The whole idea behind it is to actually use the least amount of force to get the most result."

Billy skinner is an MPD training sergeant at the Chief Ben T. Watkins Training Facility.

He's been with the force 20 years and says only three years ago were members of the swat team trained and issued a taser.

"We saw how they were being used, how effective they were. Then it started becoming hey we need to put these things in the hands of the patrol division."

In April MPD chose 60 patrol officers to carry the taser. Soon that number will rise.

Come January consolidation will bring the Bibb County Sheriff's Office and the Macon Police Department together.

Bibb County Sheriff David Davis says most deputies who work patrol carry tasers and it's expected MPD patrol who don't carry one now...will.

"Those who have not already been trained in the use and deployment of tasers will get the training and we'll issue them tasers as we go forward."

Fortunately, taser training is the same for both law enforcement agencies. Both using the same brand: Taser International X-26.

The only difference...MPD's have a camera which costs the department almost 500 dollars more when outfitting an officer. Sheriff davis is unsure if the office will spend more for the extra accessory.

"All the years that we've been using the tasers without a camera there's not been an incident were anybodys had a major concern that we would've looked back and wish that we would've had a video of the taser deployment."

With expectations of most patrol officers carrying one, it may avoid instances like the fatal shooting of Sammie Davis Junior last December. At the time, officers like Clayton Sutton were not equipped with a taser.

A GBI investigation as well as MPD review board cleared Sutton and said Sutton shot Davis for fear of his life after Davis attacked him. A relatively hot topic in Macon but both Skinner and Sheriff Davis are unsure if there had been a different outcome if Sutton had a taser.

"That officer and our officers in general, they have to base their decisions on their training, their policy and what the law dictates."

"Had there been other tools, at his disposal that he might could've used, you never know. You can't say if he had a taser, things might have been different."

Officers who carry the weapon must take a class and experience neuromuscular incapicitation.

"Let them know this is the window of opportunity that is being created for you. This is where you need to get handcuffs on the person."

"Part of law enforcement's training is to use a reactive taser target like this. It helps students know where they're aiming and if they have a good hit."

All who carry a taser must re-qualify every year in a class. While those aren't scheduled yet, Skinner expects them to happen once consolidation begins.

As for Skinner he'll continue to train students and serve the people of Macon-Bibb County in his new role as a deputy.

Cristen Drummond WGXA

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