Springfield police officers have begun carrying tasers with the help of donations from community members.
“The statistics are that after certain agencies implemented the tasers, there’s been a 70 percent to 80 percent injury reduction in officers and civilian offenders,” Police Chief Paul Wynn said. “That’s the main reason that we went into them.”
Wynn said there are times where an officer could justify the use of a firearm, but the taser gives the officer another option.
“When they do implement the taser, it comes out with a different result,” he said. “Yeah, the offender might have two burn marks on him, but at least he’s still there.
“I think it’s a useful lifesaving tool,” Wynn said. I think it’s a useful tool to keep officer injuries down and citizen injuries down. It’s going to work on both sides.”
Wynn said the statistics and a demonstration he observed about tasers prompted him to look into working to implement the use of tasers in Springfield.
“It’s a big purchase for us,” he said, adding the department is on a tight budget.
“We did not budget for this,” Wynn said. “That’s why we’re having to go after the donations. Once I saw that we were going to get support from council on the implementation, that’s when I started looking for the donations.”
The chief sees the tasers as crucial and positive tools and pointed to the Effingham County Sheriff’s Department getting tasers as a positive for that office.
He also said tasers allow a single officer more means to contain situations and are less likely to harm other officers than other methods of controlling suspects.
“When you’re a singular officer on a scene you can get overwhelmed by offenders real quick,” Wynn said. “What’s different about it is it doesn’t cross contaminate officers.
“When you get into a situation with (pepper spray), the wind’s blowing one way or it’s blowing the other way, you’re going to contaminate you or another officer,” Wynn said. “Then you’ve got to decontaminate your person that you’ve used it on before you get them in the car. I think it’s a better tool.”
He said Springfield police won’t stop carrying pepper spray but can’t use both taser and pepper spray. Wynn said the policy Springfield has for implementation is the same as for the sheriff’s department, which will help when Springfield police and sheriff’s deputies are working together.
Wynn said the reason for not using both methods is the possibility that propellant from a pepper spray could remain on the offender, and there is a possibility that the taser could cause the propellant to spark setting the offender on fire.
“We just don’t want to take that chance,” he said.
Wynn said the total cost of the tasers is $7,858. Currently the police department has been pledged a total of $5,115 from the following donors:
Doug Andrews Attorney at Law
Councilman Butch Kieffer
The Rahn Co./
Southside BP Station
Chris Heidt/ Jack Roberts
Phillip Heidt/ Carey Heidt
East Coast Mobile Homes/ WW Housing
Keith Johnson Properties
“I feel real happy with the response we’ve gotten from the businesses, and the response we’ve got from the citizens,” Wynn said. “They’ll ask you, ‘Is that a taser? Did it hurt?’”