by Carrie C. Causey
YOUNGSVILLE — Police were given the OK to ask business owners to help fund new tools for safety that is considered an immediate need.
At the end of the Youngsville town board’s meeting June 11, Police Chief Daren Kirts and First Sgt. R. Adkins presented to the board their desire for the town’s police department to get Tasers.
Adkins told the board that in the nine years he’s been there, he’s seen a “severe change in the people we are dealing with.”
Most noticeably, he said, is a different attitude toward police.
“We’ve seen a definite change in the way people feel about law enforcement,” Adkins said.
He relayed several instances of chases in town and while assisting the Sheriff’s Office where it would have been useful to have a Taser, especially when confrontations turn physical.
Once, he was involved in a chase and tried to hold the suspect at gunpoint.
“The suspect looked at me and laughed and took off,” he told the board, adding he wasn’t fast enough to catch up. Tasers, on the other hand, work up to 35 feet.
Another time, two officers were wrestling with a suspect and, if it weren’t for a deputy Tasing the offender making him incapacitated, there could have been serious injuries.
“It helps officer safety and is another tool for us to use,” Kirts stressed.
While often there are two officers on duty at any given time, one might be making an arrest or there are multiple calls at once, which leaves the officer alone.
“It’s officer safety, but it’s also suspect safety,” Kirts pointed out. “When they are incapacitated, officers don’t have to go hands-on or use other tools.”
Asking the people
In order to fund the initiative, Adkins and Kirts asked the board for permission to approach residents and business owners for tax-deductible donations.
“I have numerous contacts with businesses in town,” Adkins said, later adding, “I believe I have a good enough rapport with the businesses in town.”
The goal is to raise $5,000 to get enough Tasers for officers.
Overall, commissioners were thrilled with the idea, even showing appreciation for finding another outlet to fund the endeavor without asking the town for money that it doesn’t have.
Their only hesitations were liability. But, Adkins and Kirts assured the board along with getting the equipment is a required training, including being Tased themselves.
“We will have the knowledge training Taser gives to us,” Adkins said. “We have to know what we use feels like with pepper spray and tear gas.”
Commissioner Graham Stallings said he was behind it “100 percent.”
“But if some elderly person has a heart attack, who is liable?” he asked.
Adkins said the use of the Taser, like any tool, is case-by-case at the discretion of an officer.
“Training of the officer is necessarily to know if he can handle it on his own, if the suspect is in danger or if I’m in danger. They make the call,” Adkins said, with Kirts chiming in that there’s continual training.
The pair were given the board’s blessing to begin asking for donations to purchase the equipment.
•Grant abandoned: The board received an update on a prospective grant opportunity for a local business. The two business owners renovating the Boondocks building have decided against applying for the Rural Center Grant, which was going to take a lot of work as well as funding from the town.
Town Administrator Bill Tatum said Matthew Winslow and Tim Grey still plan on renovating the downtown building for offices.
•Want to buy a building? Last month, the board received word that someone offered to buy the property the town owns with an old storage building on it for $5,000. Part of the deal is the prospective buyers will tear down and remove the shed. The property is located on Southwest Railroad Street and is one-tenth of an acre.
Thursday, Town Attorney Joe Olivieri said the board would have to go through an official bidding process, advertising that proposed sale price and seeing if anyone will out-bid them.
•Banking on less fees: The board approved switching accounts to Union Bank and Trust to provide banking services with no additional charge. This is also the bank the town uses for its loans.