Should tasers be banned? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Should tasers be banned?

Valdosta - They've been outlawed in several states, now some human rights groups want tasers banned in Georgia.

In 2004, four people died in Georgia after being shot with a taser, but many law enforcement officers say its the most effective weapon they carry. Sgt. Ray Ewings has been carrying a taser for about four years. "It makes my job a lot easier," said Ewings.

He thinks this is the safest, and most effective way to take down a suspect. "Recovery's quicker than with the expandable batton because you can have severe bruising and broken bones, with o.c. spray, recovery time is 10, sometimes 20 minutes," said Ewings.

Here's how it works. The taser deploys sharp barbs into an individual and delivers and electric shock. "It locks them down and takes the control away from the individual," said Ewings.

That gives the officer enough time to gain control of a situation and apprehend the suspect. But since several people have died after being shot with a taser, the weapons have been under fire. Sgt. Ewings says its not tasers that kill people, its officers who misuse them. "In one instance where a person died, they had nine different officers deploying the tasers," said Ewings.

With all the controversy surrounding tasers, many law enforcement agencies, like the Valdosta Police Department, have decided not to use the weapons until they do a little bit more research. "It's not that we're against them, we just want to know a little bit more about the incidents that resulted in death before we carry them and invest all that money in them," said Lt. Bernard Robinson.

It's a controversial weapon that some say causes too many deaths, but these officers say its the best way to protect them and the suspect.

posted by ashley.harper@walb.com