The job of a police officer is to protect and serve. And when they're put in a dangerous situation - they have to rely on their weapons to protect them. But not every scenario calls for the use of deadly force - that's why Richmond County is now adding a new weapon for their deputies to use. WJBF NewsChannel 6's Barclay Bishop explains.
Soon Richmond County deputies can be found using tasers. While they are slowly introducing them to the force, guards at the Richmond County Jail have been using them for about a year. By the end of March, they hope to have all road patrol deputies armed with them as well.
For the past several weeks, deputies have been trained in an 8 hour course on how to use the tasers. This includes getting exposed as well as assisting in exposures. While the main goal in going to this non-lethal weapon is to reduce the risk of injury to officers and the suspects that they face - there's another added bonus.
"With the reduction in injuries to officers, the amount that the county has to pay as far workman's comp and issues along that is greatly reduced. So by doing that, we were helping the county and it keeps our officers safe," said Sgt. Donnie Chavis, Richmond County Sheriff's Office.
These tasers will not replace guns, because if officers are faced with deadly force it's still their obligation to meet the suspect with the same amount of force, or more.
And while this is new for the county - it's not new for a local college and their security personnel. About 2 and a half years ago, all security officers with Georgia Regents University were issued tasers. Officers say they take out the need to go hands on with their suspects, saying the five seconds of excruciating pain is enough to help deter the problem from escalating any further.
"Just displaying the taser and putting the laser down on somebody makes them cooperate and that's what we want to do. It's more and more we're not having to put darts in people. Just displaying and showing it to them it gets what we need, which is cooperation," said Major Eugene Maxwell of Georgia Regents University Security.
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