Making the right choice in a life-or-death situation just got a little easier for four Thomson Police officers, according to TPD Chief John Hathaway. On April 18, the officers received tasers to use on patrol as another option for non-lethal force.
Many law enforcement agencies have employed the use of tasers - which incapacitate unruly suspects by an electric current - as an alternative to the use of guns or batons that can leave lasting damage and put others in harm's way.
Chief Hathaway - who has been following the development of tasers for years - thinks this is a move in the right direction for the safety of both the officers and the public.
"It has really helped in the fact that it eliminates the threat immediately with no threat to the officer," he said. "It's a matter of handcuffing and going on to jail after that, but it takes the threat of the officer getting hurt or a third party getting hurt by a violent person."
The Thomson City Council approved the purchase of the tasers with condemned funds after Officer John James presented the request during a recent meeting. The officers wanted the tasers before the money was available, so they bought the weapons on their own and will be reimbursed, Chief Hathaway said.
The weapon fires two probes into the skin of a suspect, sending an electric current through the suspect's body. Chief Hathaway said they can also be used without the probes by placing the taser directly on the suspect's body.
"It's a real pain compliance. It hurts," Chief Hathaway said. "But the good effect to it is when it's over, it's over. It's not like shooting somebody where they've got to go to the hospital and receive medical treatment to recover from that."
Each officer carrying a taser completed a training class on how to correctly use the weapon. During that class, the four officers voluntarily received a shock from a taser as part of the training to better understand what a suspect goes through.
"None of them liked it," Chief Hathaway said. "They said that's the longest five seconds of their life."
Currently, officers James, Scott Whittle, Jerry Stanphill and Jared Land carry the device. Once the funds become available, all TPD officers will be equipped with tasers, Chief Hathaway said.