APD officers trained on use of new weapon

Officer James Dean, center, recovers from a “shock” from the Phazzer. At left is Officer Christopher Corbitt, and at right Investigator Shawn Golden. ECSO Lt. James Ward, back, administered the training.

A handful of Atmore Police Department officers and investigators were literally and figuratively shocked last week to discover the capabilities of the department’s newest non-lethal weapon.

Five officers not only got a chance last week to handle and activate one of the 13 new Phazzer Enforcers the department recently purchased with a $9,000 grant awarded by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, but each also got the chance to experience the power of the new conductive energy weapon.

Chief Chuck Brooks said the grant-funded purchase, when coupled with the Tasers the department already has, would allow nearly every APD officer and detective to have a non-lethal weapon while on duty.

“It’s a very effective tool, and most of our patrol officers and all of our investigators will have one now,” Brooks said. “It’s a wonderful tool for our officers. In the past, because of the expense of the units, we really couldn’t afford for every officer to have one. Now, thanks to this grant, we can.”

The mandatory training session, conducted February 9 by Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Lt. James Ward, is designed to make sure each one knows how to properly use the device, which is similar to a Taser and can even use Taser cartridges, before he or she leaves the station with it.

“Everyone on the force has to go through a class and take a test in order for him or her to become certified to use it,” explained the chief, who did not have to endure the electrical charge that was sent coursing through the bodies of his subordinates during the class. “They have to do the classroom part and the practical part (being shot with the weapon).”

The actions of law enforcement agencies across the nation and around the world, along with the methods employed by officers in tense situations, is being more closely scrutinized than ever. The Phazzer Enforcer is a means of handling a difficult situation in a less-than-lethal manner.

“It is a safe, non-lethal way to immobilize a suspect,” Brooks said. “It protects the suspect and the officer, and it allows the officer to gain control of an unruly person without using deadly force. It makes a non-compliant suspect very compliant.”