Buckhannon city police officers had "a shocking experience" when they underwent training for the department's newly acquired tasers, according to Police Chief Matt Gregory.
Gregory said he decided to implement the stun guns for the safety of the officers and those they arrest. Two tasers are now in service and two more will be ordered, he told City Council Thursday.
While the department doesn't have enough tasers to distribute to each officer, on-duty officers can check one out at the beginning of their shift, allowing the police to utilize the tasers while keeping costs down.
"It's a less lethal option for officers primarily to keep themselves and others safe, to avoid these types of confrontations that injured one of our officers," Gregory said, explaining that an officer injured his wrist when he had to go "hands-on" with a suspect.
The officer's wrist was injured so badly that it put him off duty for nearly a month, according to Gregory. The chief said that the incident could have been avoided entirely if the officer had the luxury of a taser.
"We've had a number of incidents over the last several months," Gregory said. "Our officers have had to go hands-on in a lot of situations when they could have avoided that. We're seeing incidents of that nature more frequently."
Gregory said the goal of the tasers isn't to intimidate anyone nor to be used as an aggressive tool.
"It's a tool to keep the officer, the individual that we're trying to arrest and anybody else that may be on hand from getting hurt," he said. "We don't want to cause injury to the person we're trying to arrest either."
In other matters, City Attorney David McCauley told council that he was working on the electrical inspection ordinance. The ordinance will identify standards of codes to follow and will detail various types of electrical inspections.
"We are probably going to be looking at making recommendations to the council of fairly substantially increasing the fees which would be charged for these electrical inspections," McCauley said, adding the cost for an inspection is about $10 or $15 and that amount "really cannot begin to equate to the cost of having a certified electrical inspector do the work."
McCauley said the inspections vary based on whether they are for residential, commercial or industrial properties.
"It's all about the bang for your buck," he said. "Right now, you don't pay very much for these electrical inspections, and in all candor, you really haven't gotten a lot for that $10 or $15 fee."
McCauley said the fees could be raised to $100 or $150 for the total multiple inspections that would be done by a certified electrical inspector.
"This is all about safety," McCauley said. "That's what the purpose of this ordinance is - safety first. It's time to look at things in a better way."
McCauley also announced a financing option for the National Guard Armory project that was suggested to him by Vince Collins and John Stump from the law firm of Steptoe & Johnson. McCauley said they recommended the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has "some very low-interest rate opportunities."
The project cost would be about $750,000, McCauley said.
First-grade students and teachers of Union Elementary School attended the council meeting to propose planting trees and flowers at City Park. Brooke Scott, a teacher, said that they have applied for a grant to help, and anyone wishing to donate could call her at Union Elementary School.
Gregory also mentioned that a West Virginia Wesleyan College Service scholar, who is pursuing a degree in history, is working with the city's police department to create a historic time line of the department and is searching for photographs to compliment the history.