Resource officer proposes use of Tasers to Board of Education

Published 6:37 pm Friday, June 19, 2015

Decatur County School police officers could soon have Conducted Electrical Weapons, or Tasers, to use should the need ever arise.

Chief Maurice Gaines addressed the Decatur County Board of Education Thursday to make a proposal that the board allow the system to purchase the Tasers and allow the resource officers to have them at their disposal. Resource officer Marvin Knight, a former Bainbridge Public Safety officer, assisted Gaines with the presentation, offering his experiences of using the Taser during him time with BPS.

“This is something we have been working on for a couple of years,” explained Gaines. “The thing that I always worry about is that if we have to use force, other than putting our hands on someone, we would have to use our weapon (gun). I hope and pray I never have to do that.”

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Gaines explained that the requested Tasers would employ a five second burst of current that would result in the immediate loss of neuromuscular control, allowing the officer to eliminate the threat of harm to themself or others. There would be instant recovery after the five-second cycle.

According to Gaines, use of a Taser reduces injuries to suspects by 70 percent and to officers by 80 percent.

Dr. Fred Rayfield, Decatur County School System superintendent, confirmed with Gaines that all other area agencies, including Decatur County Sheriff’s Office deputies and BPS officers, are equipped with Tasers. Often, those agencies assist the school system police at events, like football games.

The initial investment to equip the entire school police force would be roughly $8,000.

In addition to making the request to authorize the purchase and use of the Tasers, Gaines submitted a proposed Conducted Electrical Weapons policy for the board to review. The proposed policy outlines procedures and accepted uses of the Taser by system officers. The policy prohibits the use of the device on any person under the age of 14, unless the actions of that person result in an extremely dangerous situation.

Gaines indicated that many of the school officers had previous training on use of the Taser, but he, along with another officer, would need to complete the formal training. Bainbridge Public Safety has offered to conduct the initial training and the annual recertification of each officer.

The board chose not to vote to Gaines’ proposal during Thursday’s meeting, instead agreeing to table the issue for 30 days until the July board meeting. However, the board agreed to allow the officers to receive the necessary training in the meantime.