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South Georgia law enforcement breaks down gun vs. taser use

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 8:42 PM EDT
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THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WCTV) - Deputies at the Thomas County Sheriff’s Office are demonstrating how tasers and firearms are placed on their belts to avoid tragic accidents like the one in Minnesota.

In the Minnesota case, the officer yelled that she was about to use her taser, but instead drew her gun and fired.

“Your firearm is gonna be on your strong side. If you’re right-handed, right side, left-handed, left side. If you need to draw, it’s with the right hand. The taser is placed on your weak side,” said Lieutenant David Godwin with TCSO.

Godwin said intentionally putting the taser on the weaker side forces deputies to cross draw, distinguishing from the move used to draw their gun on their dominate side. Law enforcement authorities said distinguishing between the taser and the gun is a major focus during training.

“When we’re doing the tasers, we’re actually running up on them and rushing them making them make a decision and they have to constantly draw in it. We do this over and over and over again so that we do not have that kind of mistake,” said Sergeant Scott Newberry with the Thomasville Police department.

Although some tasers are black officials said for a clear visible difference both TPD and TCSO deputies carry the yellow model.

Godwin said the department is transitioning into the latest model taser known as Taser7. The tool allows the deputies to send a warning buzz without actually firing a shot. He said it’s a great indicator that you actually have your taser. The new model also fires two cartilages without having to reload.

Weight is also another recognizable difference.

“Grip on your tasers are smaller. So, for me with big hands, the grip on my taser stops there where on my firearm it goes below the palm of my hand. So that’s another way you should be able to tell what you’re holding,” said Godwin.

The lieutenant also teaches use of force courses. He said all the physical differences and training is important and it helps to an extent. However, he believes there’s no way to really determine what will happen when you’re in a split second, life or death situation.

“Yes, we can put you in a scenario well, I got shot, but I got shot during training, I’m walking around and I’m going home. I’m not going to the hospital, I’m going home. Now you’re put in a real-life situation where you’re thinking I’m about to die, your stress level goes way up,” Godwin said.

The Valdosta Police department also shared that they have a similar policy, requiring officers to use the cross draw method and placing their lethal firearms on their dominate side.

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