Bibb County commissioners approved Tuesday the purchase of six Tasers to be used by rangers at Lake Tobesofkee.
Doug Furney, director of the county-owned Tobesofkee Recreation Area, said hes been contemplating asking commissioners to approve the purchase for the past couple of years. He said he and his staff encounter 10 or more incidents a year in which they must physically restrain someone inside the recreation area.
Its a safety issue, Furney told commissioners. In the past, weve had to physically restrain subjects. Having Tasers will allow us to make it safer for us and the people out there. Ive thought about it for a long time, and I dont want to go through another season without it.
The measure was approved with little debate by the commissions Finance Committee and later in the day by the full commission.
Commissioner Lonzy Edwards quipped, What took you so long? to make the request.
All the rangers are certified law enforcement officers, Furney said, and all are armed with handguns. However, at events with potentially hundreds of people, discharging a handgun is dangerous to bystanders, and using pepper spray isnt always effective.
Furney recounted a case involving a man with outstanding warrants against him who wrecked his vehicle into a ditch when he saw one of the rangers near Lake Tobesofkee. As the ranger checked on a female passenger in the vehicle, the driver came back and told the ranger to shoot him because he didnt want to go back to jail.
Eventually, the situation was settled peacefully, Furney said, but having a Taser would have given the ranger more options. Many times, an individual will see a law enforcement officers Taser and back down before its used, he said.
In other business Tuesday:
Commission Chairman Sam Hart announced several appointments to local authorities and commissions. The commission approved the appointment of Edwards to the Central Georgia Joint Development Authority, and former Macon City Councilwoman Jaime Kaplan to the Macon-Bibb County Transit Authority. The board also approved four appointments to the Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission: Carole Grant, Adam Cochran, Ron Foster and Tony Rojas. And the commission appointed John Wolfenbarger to the Development Authority of Bibb County.
Len Hindsman, who is overseeing the projects on the special purpose local option sales tax list, said members of the committee tasked with building a $3 million animal shelter will present a first draft of what should be included in the new shelters plans. That draft will be presented at the April 2 regular commission meeting at 6 p.m.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call him at 744-4334.