Top state official recommends new police Taser training following man's death

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EAST POINT, Ga. - The organization that certifies police in Georgia wants statewide standards for how officers use Tasers.
 
It comes after the death of Gregory Towns. Two East Point police officers are accused of repeatedly using a Taser on Towns. Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne learned the department had not certified one of the officers.
 
The executive director for Peace Officers Standards and Training Council of Georgia said many police departments, including East Point, have a policy to follow the Taser company's recommendation and train their officers annually, except for instructors who  get intensive training every two years.
 
But Ken Vance said now it may be time for the state to get involved to guarantee that training actually takes place.
 
“Because of situation after situation after situation it may be time for us to step in,” Vance said.
 
Vance said he will ask the council that oversees police certification in Georgia to consider mandatory training for officers that carry them.
 
When asked if the East Point incident was the “straw that broke the camel's back,” Vance said, “Probably. Probably yes. It's the one that's starting to generate the conversation.”
 
Chris Stewart, an attorney suing the city of East Point over the death of Towns, said he can prove Towns was stunned with Tasers while handcuffed a minimum of five times by East Police on April 11.
 
An East Point police lieutenant told Winne a list of 20 names received under the Open Records Act is a list of East Point officers who, as of April 11, 2014, were out of compliance with East Point's Taser policy requiring annual re- certification in the use of the Taser.
 
Vance said Taser recommends annual training for the officers.
 
The lieutenant said the list of officers whose training was not current on April 11 includes Howard Weems, whose firing was proposed after an internal investigation and a GBI investigation into the death of Towns.
 
Winne was told after the Towns incident, the then-chief Woodrow Blue ordered every East Point officer, even those whose training was up to date, to turn in his or her Taser until completing new, secondary training on the use of the Taser.