By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Officer Lee Miller hasn’t even had to pull his taser out of its holster yet and he already sees its effect on people.
The Tupelo Police Department officially added the taser to its arsenal of protection pieces Thursday. All 40 of the patrol officers are certified to carry the devices and there are enough for every officer on the 12-man shifts to be equipped.
The department has 14 on hand and officers rotate them on each shift.
Tupelo Police Chief Tony Carleton said carrying tasers will cut down on injuries for officers and suspects and reduce confrontation. And from what Miller witnessed during a Thursday traffic stop, he agrees.
“I was assisting another officer on a traffic stop and three guys were in the vehicle,” said Miller. “When they got out, one of them looked at my taser and asked what it was. When I told him, he said, ‘Oh no.’ So even without pulling it out the taser is getting respect. That’s what we want.”
Miller volunteered to be shot with the taser before being certified to carry it, so he knows the type of pain it inflicts.
“It’s a serious shock,” said Miller. “It’s safe but it can deliver a powerful jolt to a person.”
Miller said with the taser it’s almost like having instant backup.
“Sometimes when you are the first officer on the scene things can get out of hand before backup arrives,” he said. “Now I feel like I have a tool that will keep me safe and the suspect until my help gets here.”