Harlem Mayor Scott Dean is among those fond of referring to Columbia County's smallest and oldest city as "Mayberry," likening it to the mythical North Carolina community where Sheriff Andy Griffith kept the peace.
So peaceful was Mayberry that Deputy Barney Fife famously carried in his shirt pocket a single bullet for his gun.
What, then, would Deputy Fife think about a Taser?
Harlem Public Safety officers this past week began carrying the electronic stun weapons after City Council approval. The guns fire two wired probes into the bodies of uncooperative suspects, knocking them down with 50,000 volts of electricity.
The devices, along with pepper spray or OC spray or batons, are intended as a non-lethal alternative to firearms. Critics of the Tasers are plentiful: A relative handful of suspects have died from the devices' use or misuse, with those numbers overhyped by criminal rights organizations.
Obviously, using a Taser is safer on a suspect than putting a bullet in him. What's more, as a precaution, Public Safety Chief Jerry Baldwin says his department's rules require medical care for a suspect after a Taser shock as a precaution.
Harlem officers have a little more to deal with these days than Sheriff Griffith, whose biggest headache was handling Otis the town drunk. Even so, here's hoping those new Tasers don't come out of Harlem's holsters any more often than Barney's bullet left his pocket.
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