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Budget Issues Keep Most Macon Police Without Tasers | News

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Budget Issues Keep Most Macon Police Without Tasers
News

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Most Macon police officers don't carry tasers because the department doesn't have the money in the budget.
  • Bibb County Sheriff's and Warner Robins Police equip all officers with tasers.
  • BSO Captain Charlie Gunnels says the 'non-lethal' option helps keep his officers and the public safe.
  • It would cost Macon nearly $250,000 to equip all of its officers with tasers.

Some Macon City Council members were surprised to hear this week that most city police officers do not carry tasers because of budget constraints.


"At least on the legislative side of the hall, any request that the police department requested as it relates to capital, we rubber stamp," says Councilman Virgil Watkins, who says he might want more tasers.

But at the Bibb County Sheriff's Office, there is a different policy in place.

BSO Captain Charlie Gunnels says all officers are equipped with tasers and are trained to use them.

He says tasers limit the use of lethal force, which help keep his deputies and the public safe by.

"Our officer injuries have absolutely gone down since we began using tasers five years ago," Gunnels says. "It gives us a non-lethal option where we don't have to use a handgun."

Gunnels says each taser costs around $800.

Warner Robins Police Department spokeswoman Tabitha Pugh says that, like Bibb, they have equipped officers with--and trained them to use--tasers.

However, the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office says shares the same concern as Macon police: budget constraints have limited the amount officers who can carry tasers.

Gunnels says for a situation like the shooting outside Kroger last month, tasers can serve as a better, non-lethal option.

"I can't speak for what took place out there," Gunnels says. "But when we go to an arrest, and it escalates from voice command, to soft hands, to heavy hands, our next option is the taser."

Some Macon council members say they would be in favor of giving the police department money for tasers.

At a cost of almost $800 each, that would add up to around a quarter of a million dollars for the department's nearly 300 officers.

"That's a heck of a lot less than what would be won in a civil lawsuit for wrongful death," says councilman Rick Hutto. "And perhaps I'm thinking like a lawyer, but I'm also thinking like a citizen of this city. I don't want to see us go through what we've been through recently that's happened. So, I would be absolutely be right in front in trying to get tasers for all of our officers."

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