Shocking Solution, Part Two

More than 6,000 law enforcement agencies are now using tasers along with hand guns, batons and pepper spray, but the Thomas County Sheriff's Office in south Georgia doesn't have them. Instead, there are questions.

CAPT John Richards says, "We've addressed the issue on several occasions over the years. They work well, but just the fact that there have been some deaths makes us reluctant to purchase them."

CAPT John Richards also says that Georgia lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban the taser all together in the state, and until a decision is made his agency is going to stick to hand guns and pepper spray.

"In my opinion, the pepper spray is a great tool. There's been no connection with pepper spray and death and there's been some connection with tasers. If the taser caused the death, I don't know, but it does make you think about it."

Anti-taser groups say there have been more than 70 deaths related to the weapon across the country over the last several years.

The American Civil Liberties Union says it's not anti-taser, but it does have questions, most related to training.

Larry Spalding says, "It comes back to a situation in which it's not necessary to say this particular law enforcement tool should be outlawed, but I think it is necessary to say that it appears that officers have not been adequately trained on the taser and what the potential downside is."

A 22-year-old's story could be proof of that. He wants to remain anonymous. He says last year he was hit after a domestic dispute where the police were called. He says his hands were in the air when he was shocked, but despite his painful experience, he says, “I think they should have them."

Another aspect of tasers that frightens many parents is the fact that more and more schools resource officers are now carrying them on campuses.

Claire Olson says, "I think that unless we're dealing with children that are adult size, maybe the same size as the adult figures, teachers that they're dealing with, I think it's excessive use of force. I think we can figure out better ways to handle children's discipline issues. It could be dangerous."

Theresa Stoops adds, "They shouldn't have them, that's for sure. Not to be used on a child."

The superintendent of Leon County schools says he understands the reservations, but wants parents to remember one important thing about the deputies in schools.

Supt. Bill Montford says, "Well, our position with SROs is that they are there to protect our students from outside influences more so than on-campus problems. We look at our SROs as the front line of defense for all of our employees and students."

Larry Spalding adds, "It is not a non-lethal weapon. It is a lesser alternative than guns, and in many situations preferable to guns."


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