By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – It’s been two months since Tupelo police officers started carrying tasers and they’ve only had to use them twice.
Police Chief Tony Carleton believes that’s a sign the tasers are doing what they were intended to do.
Carleton said his research of tasers indicated they would cut down on officer-suspect confrontations and injuries for both parties.
“We feel they are doing what they are intended to do,” said Carleton. “They are not the answer to all situations but they are a useful tool. I hope since the public knows we have them, it will be a bigger deterrent from people trying to fight with police.”
Training officer Scott Speaks said the low usage number shows the tasers are deterrents.
“When the sheriff’s department got them, that laid the groundwork for us,” Speaks said. “People had seen them and heard about them so they were very aware of what they could do. I think that is the reason our physical force with suspects has decreased, which has increased safety across the board.”
Speaks said police officers have dozens of encounters with people daily and having only two instances of a person being tased is a good sign.
Speaks said it’s going to take at least a year before police really know the effects of officers carrying tasers.
Because the Lee County Sheriff’s Department also uses tasers in the jail, its usage numbers may be higher than Tupelo’s. But Sheriff Jim Johnson said injuries have decreased dramatically since his officers started carrying them.