Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- It's technology that helps keep police from using deadly force, and it's on the way to a sheriff's office near you. We're talking tasers, and the Richmond County Sheriff's Office and Marshal's Office are planning to use them in Augusta.
Major Gene Maxwell with the newly-merged Georgia Regents University police force says, "In my opinion, hands down the best weapon, the best investment we've ever made."
GHSU police have been using tasers for about a year, and now, others are following suit.
Marshal Steve Smith with the Richmond County Marshal's Office says, "We think it's going to be a useful tool, but we just want to make sure that we are completely capable of handling it the way it needs to be handled."
The Marshal's Office in Richmond County is training to get tasers, and they aren't the only ones.
"We are looking at upgrades in our equipment for our officers and personnel. We are looking at phasing in tasers throughout the department," said Sheriff Richard Roundtree.
Roundtree says he hopes the funds for the weapons can come from asset forfeiture money.
But these systems aren't cheap. The average system costs about $1,200.
A lot of people in the community are excited to see the technology used in the Sheriff's Office.
"I think it's a good idea, you know, it'll help stop using deadly force," said Jamie Wade, who lives in Augusta.
But some aren't too certain about the weapons hitting the streets.
"Some people got bad hearts. Like me, you hit me with a taser, it liable to kill me right then and there," said Lewis Paine.
We asked Paine what he thought a taser would feel like, and he said, " I don't know, and I ain't trying to find out."
"It's the absolute most painful experience you'll experience in your entire life," Maxwell said.
And he would know. He's a taser instructor, and he's experienced the shock of a taser twice.
Doug Stacy with the Marshal's Office says, "You lose all motor control of your body. It's very painful, but it's only a five-second duration."
Maxwell says he would recommend the investment for any law enforcement agency.
"For the benefit that it gives, especially in the law enforcement field, in the jails, it's invaluable. It's money well spent," he said.
The Sheriff's Office has a couple of tasers already in use at the jail, and they hope to phase more in gradually each year for all of the deputies.