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Five police officers were awarded commendations and 10 from Missouri and Illinois were given certificates of appreciation during today’s St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners meeting.
Chief Tim Fitch presented certificates of appreciation to Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Hudson, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason O’Barr, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Corporal Eric Burgard, Arnold Police Sergeant James Jones, St. Clair County Illinois Sheriff’s Deputy Justin Biggs, Cahokia Illinois Police Sergeant Keith Bowers, Cahokia Illinois Police Officer David Heine and Sauget Illinois Police Officer Guenlen Kinnard. They were involved in a shooting crime spree that occurred in South County on June 7 that lead to a pursuit that stretched from Jefferson County into Illinois.
One of Missouri’s largest police agencies will soon equip every officer on the streets with a Taser stun gun, a weapon the chief credits with reducing injuries to both suspects and officers.
Redditt Hudson of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri on Thursday questioned the decision by St. Louis County police, saying stun guns are dangerous and too often deployed prematurely.
Police Chief Tim Fitch said the department will use federal grant money to purchase 312 additional Tasers. As a result, all of the county’s patrol officers and those in specialized units will carry the weapon — about 600 officers total.
“The device is another less lethal tool we have at our disposal and will be used only long enough to gain compliance and then (be) deactivated,” Fitch said in a statement.
Fitch said that to help ensure the safety of suspects he would institute a policy that requires officers to call an ambulance every time the stun gun is deployed.