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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Local Officers "Get It Right" 1/1/09

Potentially lethal incident is resolved without serious injuries.
By Sid Riley

Last Friday an incident occurred in Sneads in which responding police officers from the Sneads Police Department and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office handled with mature professionalism and restraint. These officers deserve commendation from us all for ‘getting it right’.
It appears that a citizen of Sneads, Mr. Larry Booth, had become very agitated and combative in a family incident which escalated into violence. Mr. Booth had forced his way into the family home on Mathis Drive in Sneads, had allegedly taken a large butcher knife and attacked and cut his uncle, and was continuing to threaten other members of the family.
Sneads Police Chief, Burt McAlpin and his brother, JCSO Investigator Jason McAlpin were among first responders to the 911 call which the family had made. They observed Booth in the edge of a nearby woods and went to that area where they ordered him to lie on the ground and drop the knife. Instead, Booth rushed towards the officers in a threatening manner, knife in hand.
The officers had their guns drawn and were prepared to shoot Mr. Booth in order to prevent him from physically attacking them. Bert McAlpin had armed himself with the Sneads Police department taser, and as Booth approached he fired the electrified darts into him. The electric shock instantly knocked Booth to the ground, face down, with the knife still in his hand but laying under him. The shock from a taser lasts for approximately five seconds, but this was long enough for the officers on the scene to overcome the suspect and after a struggle secure him with handcuffs.
This could easily have been a deadly incident. The responding officers had every justification for using their guns and perhaps killing Mr. Booth. Instead, they chose a less reactive course of action, used the taser, got their job done, and no one sustained any serious injuries. It was good, mature, professional police work.
Sheriff Lou Roberts cites this as a perfect case for the promotion of the appropriate use of tasers by officers as they perform their duties. "Tasers provide a "middle ground" for an officer to use in dealing with a violent, threatening incident. It is an option to use before resorting to deadly force."
A taser costs between $400 and $800, depending on the model and features. At the present time the Sheriff’s department has six tasers in possession. Sheriff Roberts would hope that could be increased by another ten to fifteen instruments so that every patrol vehicle on a shift could have a taser at hand. All officers are given certification training in the proper use of the device, and the course includes being "tased" yourself.
This is a story with a happy ending. The stabbing victim was released after treatment, no officers were injured in a potentially violent incident, and Mr. Booth is in jail awaiting his fate.
We at the Jackson County Times wish to congratulate Bert and Jason McAlpin for their good work.

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