The entire Fort Oglethorpe Police Department will be outfitted with Tasers by spring, officials said.
Fort Oglethorpe City Council voted on Monday to spend about $36,000 to purchase 30 of the electronic stun guns for each police officer.
Police Chief Larry Black said the weapons give officers a way to use force without killing or injuring the person involved.
We have a very supportive city council, Black said.
Initially, he had asked only for five or six of the weapons so that one person and a supervisor on each shift could have one. After Sheriff Phil Summers said the guns are most useful if they are readily available when needed, council members proposed equipping everyone with one.
Its definitely got a place in law enforcement, Summers said. When its needed, its needed and you dont have a lot of time to make those decisions.
Lieutenant Gary McConathy said Tasers have developed a bad reputation in some circles, but have never been found responsible for killing anyone. He said each shock delivers five seconds of pain. Afterward, the person hit is incapacitated but doesnt hurt, he said.
Officers are required to go through training to carry Tasers. The training includes being shot with the gun.
Ive been shot seven times with the Taser and I prefer it over pepper spray, which we carry all the time, McConathy said.
City Manager Jim Dinley said the guns would replace the bean bag weapons used now. Officials said those guns use plastic-like bullets that deliver pain but can also injure the person if the weapon is fired within close range.
The Tasers will come equipped with cameras that provide video and audio recording of how the gun is used every time it is turned on.
McConathy said the key to using Tasers responsibly will be to train each officer well and educate them to use them only when necessary.
I would say no later than March we should have implementation, he said