AJC: DeKalb police chief: Tasers for 1,011 cops
A gradual trend toward the use of Tasers by metro Atlanta police could dramatically surge soon with a plan to give the controversial stun guns to more than 1,000 DeKalb County police officers.
Three suburban city police departments — Sandy Springs, Marietta and Alpharetta — have issued Tasers to patrol officers in the last year or so, but the area’s largest departments have either not used the devices or limited them to special squads.
Now DeKalb County Police Chief Terrell Bolton has a plan to issue Tasers to every cop on the street. Bolton will ask county commissioners next Tuesday to use $1 million from a fund of confiscated drug assets to give Tasers to 1,011 patrol officers, detectives and sergeants.
With speedy approval and after officer training, DeKalb’s Tasers could be in wide use in six or seven months, Bolton said.
Previously, commissioners have not funded Bolton’s requests for Tasers and other equipment, but their objections focused on how to pay for them. Bolton had resisted using money confiscated from drug dealers because that revenue source won’t necessarily pay for the cartridges that serve as ammunition for Tasers or for replacement weapons.
But with the county budget tightening and recent drug seizures adding to the confiscation fund, Bolton said he changed his mind after he attended a ceremony recently naming a county park for slain DeKalb officers Eric Barker and Ricky Bryant Jr. Each officer left behind four children.
“I don’t want any more children on my watch without a father,” he said.
Bolton was not suggesting that a Taser could have prevented Barker and Bryant’s shooting deaths last January. But he said he fears an officer trying to avoid using a gun could be killed by a knife-wielding suspect who might have been stopped by a Taser.
Bolton and a special county grand jury also have argued Tasers can reduce police shootings — a potent issue in DeKalb, where officers shot to death 12 suspects in 2006.
One of the fatal 2006 cases and an additional fatal shooting in 2007 fit a scenario often described as ideal for using a Taser to save lives: a knife-wielding suspect confronting multiple officers.
Taser critics such as Georgia NAACP president Edward DuBose cite other cases in which suspects who were stunned with a Taser have died — including two Gwinnett County jail inmates and another man who scuffled with Gwinnett deputies.
DuBose said Wednesday his organization “completely” opposes Tasers.
Bolton has support for his plan from another civil rights leader, Southern Christian Leadership Conference president Charles Steele Jr.
Steele said Wednesday the devices can prevent police shootings as long as officers are properly trained.
“What the problem has been is that people who’ve been given permission to use them … say, ‘oh it’s not a real weapon to a large degree and I’m going to use this gun without thinking of the ramifications,’ ” Steele said.
He said the medical effects of the weapon must be understood. Many Taser controversies have involved official rulings that suspects who were stunned died because drug-fueled “excited delirium” stopped their overheated hearts.
Amid complaints over such cases, manufacturer Taser International in 2005 said repeated shocks could be lethal. DeKalb Chief Executive Officer Vernon Jones quickly ordered a moratorium on Tasers in DeKalb.
But Jones joined Bolton last year in calling for reconsidering the weapons.
Bolton has promised DeKalb will have a medical protocol for treating and cooling suspects who are stunned.
Let me be the first to applaud the Democrats in Dekalb County Georgia for this rational decisions. The differences all have to do with one group who is in the "line of fire" and another group who is 'ABSTRACTED' from reality. They hope to take away the tasers from the police men and then to hammer the cops when they use the only remaining tool - their firearm.
A band of Progressive-Fundamentalist Black bloggers known as "The Afrospear" has a web campaign against "Electrocuted While Black"......the fact is that 180 people have died after being tasered by the police. The majority of these cases found to be related to extenuating circumstances such as drug use or preexisting conditions. I have yet to see them propose a WORKABLE ALTERNATIVE for the police to make use of when they have to confront a suspect who is under arrest but is resisting.
The graph above is an attempt to detail the relative numbers that we are dealing with. As you see from the city of Washington DC from the 1990's there were between 4 and 16 incidents of "Deadly Force" (police using their firearm) in the span of about 9 years. Compare this number to the body count of the entire city each of these years - making note that in Washington DC upwards of 90% of these dead people are Black - and then the question must be asked of the actor-vist groups like Afrospear:
"Why are you so vocal about the 'threat' from the authorities but have no effective effort to address the blood gushing from the artery that will mean a certain death for the patient?"
Clearly the CHOICE for outrage and activism is ideological in nature as it can't be described by the numbers or the FACTS at hand.
The fact is that while the police, corporations and governments in general are ordered and thus can be "sued" into compliance - Afrospear and other progressive-fundamentalist groups realize that the lone Black thug on the street is his own man and they have no control over him. They instead will likely blame SOCIETY for making him be a thug because he was denied other options.