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Selma City Council approves stun guns for police

Nearly a week after a police officer shot and killed a man on Griffin Avenue, the Selma City Council voted to purchase stun guns for the police department.

The council voted unanimously to purchase 27 stun guns at a cost about $36,000. The money will be taken out of the half-cent sales tax fund, which was originally created to help fund raises for the police department.

The council hadn’t originally listed consideration of the purchase on its agenda. After a recommendation for the purchase was included with police reports, Ward 7 councilwoman Bennie Ruth Crenshaw recommended the purchase be approved immediately.

Mayor George Evans said he hopes the stun-gun purchase will allow the police department to take less lethal measures when in danger.

“We are trying to get more equipment that help us in terms of subduing individuals that become out of control,” Evans said.

Ward 4 councilwoman Angela Benjamin agreed with Evans and said one reason to vote for the changes is because of potential holiday crime incidents.

“I think that the tasers will help save lives as opposed to lethal weapons,” Benjamin said.

Though the city council and mayor hope to cut down on deaths, Chief of Police William Riley said the stun guns would simply be another tool in his department’s arsenal.

“The taser is just like anything else our police officers have on their belt,” Riley said. “Our goal is, if it is at all possible, to not hurt anybody, but at the end of the day we want everyone to go home safely. Sometimes that is not an option; every situation will have its own merit and our officers are taught that.”

Riley said the stun guns would be given to lieutenants, sergeants and field training officers in his department, meaning two to three officers would be on shift with a stun gun at any given time.