Right approach by local police

Published 3:28 pm Friday, March 27, 2015

The tactics used by law enforcement officers has been the subject of much national discussion recently. Most of that discussion has been negative, it seems, and when the talk isn’t about whether police have done something wrong, it has been about an officer being harmed or killed as a result of ongoing tensions.

In this context, it’s encouraging to see local police make efforts to improve their relationships with the communities they serve—and to take steps to protect themselves from those who would do them harm.

The Clanton Police Department, in particular, has made a concerted, noticeable effort to enhance its perception by being visible at local events. CPD officers aren’t just on the scene when they’re chasing bad guys; they’re also there to ensure the safety of everyone attending an event, for example, and to show their support for worthwhile causes.

The department has also established precincts, so that police have a more regular presence in parts of the community other than the downtown station.

As a way of protecting themselves, CPD officers have already begun wearing body cameras. The cameras are easily activated anytime an officer makes contact with a resident and captures audio and video of the entire conversation–and keeps rolling if the situation turns into more than talking.

The cameras protect officers from baseless claims, but they can also serve as a tool for verifying any potential wrongdoing, and for training officers on what to do, or what not to do, during certain situations.

Clanton Police will also soon start carrying Tasers, which are devices that deliver an electroshock either via the device itself or at a short distance through the deployment of projectiles.

A Taser for each CPD officer has been purchased, and the staff is going through training to be certified to use the weapons.

Once in use, Tasers will provide Clanton Police with an important option. Currently, an officer has two ways to deal with a combative, non-compliant subject: The officer can attempt to physically control the person, or pull his or her gun and shoot.

A Taser, meanwhile, is an almost fool-proof tool for an officer to gain control of a subject without having to put himself in harm’s way or by using deadly force.

While a criminal would surely prefer the Taser to a pistol, make no mistake, the “less-than-lethal” weapon packs a punch that no one in their right mind wants any part of.

Anyone who comes into contact with CPD will certainly be aware of that, and the police will be better off because of it.