Lake City Council votes to buy tasers

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The Lake City city council met in regular session on Monday evening, July 19, and worked through a short agenda.

No bids were received on the police car the city had advertised for sale. The decision to sell was tabled.

Dwight Mangrum bid $500 for the used mosquito fogger. The council voted to keep the fogger and use it as a back-up.

"We have been spraying five nights a week, in order to get everything covered," Mayor Jerry Bowman said.

Jack Williams and John Davidson were reappointed to the Lake City Housing Authority Committe.

The council agreed to advertise for bids on street repairs and open them at the August meeting, after advertising.

Lake City will hold its first National Night Out street party on Tuesday, Aug. 3, from 6:00-9:00 p.m. on the front grounds of city hall. Free food, entertainment, and prizes will be given out. Tee shirts will be availiable. A bouncing castle will be provided for the children. A $100 Wal-Mart gift card will be given away.

Entertainers for the evening will include The Rhythm Cloggers, The Elder Hearts and Nothing Fancy.

The Lake City First Baptist Church will host a noon luncheon July 26 for all city employees and aldermen.

Lake City Police Chief Winred Saffell addressed the council concerning taser equipment for policemen.

"Tasers would help us out when we are working alone," Saffell said. "Tasers are less lethal and more efficient than the use of pepper spray.

"We don't want our officers to get hurt out there. Recently an officer had a back window kicked out.

"The Jonesboro policemen and Craighead County officers use tasers. They are costly, but I think they can really help us out.

"The tasers I am recommending shoot 50,000 volts in two or three second intervials. They will lay you on the ground. It usually takes a minute of recovery time, which will give us time to contain the suspects. We need all the help we can get."

Saffell said a big responsibility comes with the use of a taser. They are a small X-26 taser model, with a 15-21 feet shooting distance. They are equipped with a lazer light, that guides the electrical charge impact site.

Saffell listed the cost of four taser guns with cartridges and training at $3,500.

"I don't want to see our guys get hurt," said alderman Randy Blancett. "But I have some concern about using them to prematurily pop someone."

"A responsibility comes with the use of them," Saffell replied. "Resisting arrest is reason to pop someone."

"Perhaps as a council we could make a policy stating that they only be used in combative or physical threatening situations," alderman Carolyn Caldwell said.

"If we are going to trust officers to carry a gun, then we can trust them to carry a taser," Saffell said. "These are devices used for control of a situation that may be getting out of hand. The people will be warned before the taser is used, so they will know it is coming." Saffell said. "The officers will receive training."

The council voted to purchase the tasers. Following the council meeting Saffell showed a video to council members of actual cases where policemen felt it was necessary to use a taser.

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