ABILENE, Texas - A federal grant would allow administrators in the Taylor County Sheriff's Office to purchase Taser-brand electronic control devices for the first time and, at the same time, allow Abilene police to outfit remaining officers with the devices.
Administrators in the two departments team up every year to apply for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant. The grant would allow the departments to split $42,140 for a total of $21,070 each.
According to police, electronic control devices are less-lethal weapons and can be invaluable for officers. The grant would allow the department to purchase six additional Taser-brand devices, ensuring all officers have access to one. Currently, investigative services personnel do not.
"The Taser gives us a stand off range where we can stand back, you know, 15 to 20 feet at the max and deploy it and take the individual into custody generally without any injuries to them or to the officers," APD Lt. Scott Rowley said.
According to APD Public Information Officer George Spindler, the devices were used 24 times in 2012 and 17 time so far in 2013.
Taylor County Sheriff's Office Lt. John Cummins said five Taser devices would be purchased for courthouse officers. Those officers would have a trial run on the devices to determine whether they are necessary for other deputies.
"Being inside a building in a courtroom--narrow areas and all--that would be something they could use if an incident occurred and they need to get somebody under control without the risk of hurting the public," Cummins said.
Along with the electronic control devices, police and deputies also need additional ballistic shields which can withstand rifle bullets.
"Now we're going to get enough to where all the supervisor's cars will have them," Rowley said. "Prior to that, if we needed a ballistic shield, we had to call the SWAT team out."
Police are also requesting a new DVR burner for their COBAN digital recording system and deputies also need up-to-date body armor for narcotics agents and COBAN body cameras.
Rowley and Cummins said the departments have never had an issue getting JAG funding.
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