State could set standards for taser use

State could set standards for taser use
Capt. Chris Prokesh, Leesburg Police Department
Capt. Chris Prokesh, Leesburg Police Department

LEESBURG, GA (WALB) - The organization that certifies police in Georgia wants statewide standards for how officers use Tasers. The death of a metro Atlanta man in police custody could lead to that change.

Officers must undergo training before being allowed to carry a taser, but that training and rules on how and when to use tasers varies. One state law enforcement leader says it's time to change that.

State standards could soon be set for how law enforcement officers use tasers. Some South Georgia officers think that's a good idea.

"I think it would be beneficial if POST were to put in a standard as far as what the minimum requirements would be for officers to carry the taser," said Capt. Chris Prokesh, Leesburg Police Department.

The suggestion comes after Gregory Towns died in East Point Police custody after two officers repeatedly stunned him while he was handcuffed. The Executive Director of the Peace Officers Standards Training Council says POST may need to mandate taser standards for all agencies.

"I don't like over regulating people but this is something whose time may have come," said Ken Vance, POST Executive Director.

One of the East Point officers, who was not up to date on training, was fired. Leesburg police are all certified to carry a taser after undergoing training.

"All of the officers are required to go through the training program that is put on by a Taser International Instructor," said Capt. Prokesh.

The Department has a five step use of force policy. Using a taser is step number 3.

"Now for an instrument to qualify as a pain compliance weapon, it has to be a weapon that administers pain or discomfort to the individual for the purpose of the officer being able to gain control," said Capt. Prokesh.

Capt. Prokesh says the taser is not designed to injure or kill.

"According to Taser International at this time, 99% of those have all been related to other factors that the person had other than the officer deploying the taser alone, such as having drug issues or medical issues," said Capt. Prokesh.

Prokesh says officers should never use weapons to punish anyone.

After the incident, the former East Point Police Chief ordered all officers to complete new, secondary training on taser use.

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