On June 7, the Austell City Council voted 5-0 — with Councilman Scott Thomas absent — to approve spending $34,753.50 from the city’s drug fund to purchase 25 Tasers for the city’s police officers.
“We didn’t have any money in the budget to buy Tasers with, but what we got is drug money,” said Austell Mayor Joe Jerkins. “We had talked about getting the Tasers, so that’s a good place to use the money — the drug money — to buy some Tasers with.”
According to Carolyn Duncan, Austell’s city clerk, the city will spend $28,596 to purchase 25 Tasers, $4,710 for 200 cartridges, $574 for 25 training cartridges and $874 for 25 Taser holsters.
“A couple years ago, some citizens actually came and talked to me about why our policemen didn’t have Tasers,” said Austell City Councilwoman Kirsten Anderson, who represents Ward 1. “I did talk to our chief about it, and he made me aware that there is a grant for it. But they were expensive.”
According to Anderson, the police applied for the grant, but didn’t qualify.
“(It was) mentioned at this council meeting that we did apply, you know, for that grant. And the reason we didn’t get it was because we do not have enough crime in the city of Austell,” she said.
While getting Tased may be a painful ordeal, Anderson said it is better than the alternative.
“Our police officers are putting their lives on the line. They do have families at home; they want to go home. And there are people that have mental problems and that are on drugs. And I think, you know, they sometimes have an advantage of extra strength. And I’d rather see (the police) use a Taser than to have to pull a gun out,” she said.
At the same meeting, the council unanimously approved spending $3,350 from the drug fund, to purchase 25 GLOCK pistols. The city is receiving a discount through the firearm manufacturer’s trade-in program.
Duncan said the pistols would normally cost $399 each, for a total of $9,975, but the police department traded in their older models to bring the price down.
Councilwoman Anderson explained how the trade-in program works.
“My understanding is that our firearms — that are outdated and maybe worn — will be able to be turned in, and we’ll get a certain amount of credit for the new purchased firearms,” Anderson said.