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December 21, 2006 Issue

Hundreds of allegedly stolen items recovered
Officers offered a stunning alternative

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Hundreds of allegedly stolen items recovered

• Sheriff's Office asks for help in identifying items possibly taken over the last three years

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Several years of annoying petty thefts have come to an end because of a trash can.

People in the Matthews and Keysville area have been missing items like hand tools, kitchen items and, yes, a trash can, for at least the past three years.

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On Wednesday, Dec. 13, Lt. Robert Chalker with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office arrested Eric Latroy Redfield at his home on Campground in Matthews. Now the JCSO is asking for any citizen who may be a victim of such a theft to come forward.

One of the victims had a trash can stolen out of her yard and she recognized it in his yard, Chalker said.

He went to Redfield’s home and the suspect granted the officer consent to search.

“I searched his residence and curtilage (shed, car, yard, etc.) and seized over 300 items that I believe could possibly be stolen,” Chalker said. “I also believe that these items were stolen over a period of time of as much as three years and probably were all stolen from the Matthews/Keysville area.”

The lieutenant said items include various hand and power tools, fishing equipment and construction equipment. One possible victim told the officer Redfield took her dishes.

She told Chalker the dishes were in the kitchen cabinet. Chalker said he had not considered the dishes might not be Redfield’s own.

Things that indicated some of the items might have been stolen, according to Chalker, were the number of the same item, Redfield had four vacuum cleaners; items requiring electricity to operate, Redfield’s home has no electricity; and a more obvious indicator, the names of other people were on many of the items.

“Some people had put their names on things with magic marker. Some names were engraved or etched on things,” he said. “I don’t know how far back some of this stuff goes. I’ve got some stuff that goes back to August.

“I mainly need people to see if they’ve got stuff missing. I need to know what they’ve got missing and a good description of it.”

Chalker said most of the things recovered are the type of items most people wouldn’t miss immediately because the items are used only occasionally or seasonally.

“The reports that we’ve been getting over the years is that at night he would either walk or ride a bicycle to people’s yards and take stuff,” he said. “We knew who it was but people weren’t reporting it. Because they weren’t using it, it might be three months before somebody missed something. He’s got a lot of power tools but he doesn’t have any electricity in his house so it makes you wonder what he’s going to do with a power tool.”

Redfield has been charged with theft by taking and burglary, because Chalker had tied some items to a burglary that occurred in August.

“If he went into someone’s house, it’s burglary,” Chalker said. “If he took something out of someone’s yard, it’s theft by taking. Burglary is a felony.” Chalker further stated that whether something taken out of the yard is a felony depends on value of item.

Chalker is asking for assistance in identifying as many of the items as possible. Chalker has already taken photographs of each item recovered so far.

“I need the victims, anyone who has had anything stolen, in the Matthews/Keysville area over the past three years to contact me to set up a time to view the photos,” he said. “Most of the items have not been reported stolen; therefore, any such victim should contact me for a viewing and to make a report of their thefts. I will need an approximate time and date of the theft and a description and value of the items taken.”

Anyone who may be a victim of a theft or thefts of this nature should contact Lt. Robert Chalker at the JCSO by calling 478-625-7538.

If he is not immediately available, he asks all callers to please leave a message on his voicemail.



Officers offered a stunning alternative

By Parish Howard
Editor

Tasers will soon take the place of pepper spray for Wrens Police Officers who may need to subdue dangerous criminals.

Police Chief David Hannah said his department has ordered six M-26 Taser units and plans to order four or five more next year so that every officer will have their own. He expects the units to be in use within the next couple of weeks.

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“We believe they will cut down on the complaints we’ve had in the past on how our officers have handled offenders,” Hannah said. “These Tasers give our officers another tool for handling dangerous situations. These things are no joke. Once you’ve been stung by one, you don’t want any more.”

And the chief spoke from experience as he was among around 25 officers who participated in a class on the Tasers last week at Wrens City Hall. Officers from Wadley Police Department, McDuffie County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson County Code Enforcement and even Jefferson County EMS workers joined Wrens officers in the several-hour course detailing the use and maintenance of the Taser. As a part of the course, each officer who will be carrying the weapon had to take a sampling of the device’s power to detain.

“It was one of the worst experiences I’ve ever felt,” Hannah said. “I have been stung by a little electricity before, but nothing like this. I can tell you, anyone who gets hit with this thing is definitely going down.”

The post certified instructor Vidalia Patrol Captain Kevin T. Collins Sr. explained that the Tasers’ barbed electrodes can be fired up to 25 feet or the weapon can be used in a dry stun method as well.

“The class if for basic users, normally for officers who are getting an introduction to the device,” he said. “In the class we explain everything about it medically, electronically, all aspects of its use.

“While Taser International suggests that any officer who uses the weapon experience its power, for most departments, like Wrens, it is mandatory. It’s important that they understand just how devastating it is when used on someone.”

While the M-26 Taser the city will be using delivers a 50,000 volt charge, Collins explained that it is the device’s low amperage that makes it a safe and effective weapon.

“It delivers between .036 and .04 joules per pulse,” the instructor said. “Compare that to your defibrillators used by EMTs which operate between 150 and 400 joules.”

While Taser recommends hitting an individual with no more than five five-second cycles, Collins said that he recommends that if two or three don’t incapacitate the offender, the officer should regroup.

I can tell you, anyone who gets hit with this thing is definitely going down.”

The post certified instructor Vidalia Patrol Captain Kevin T. Collins Sr. explained that the Tasers’ barbed electrodes can be fired up to 25 feet or the weapon can be used in a dry stun method as well.

“The class is for basic users, normally for officers who are getting an introduction to the device,” he said. “In the class we explain everything about it medically, electronically, all aspects of its use.

“While Taser International suggests that any officer who uses the weapon should experience its power, for most departments, like Wrens, it is mandatory. It’s important that they understand just how devastating it is when used on someone.”

While the M-26 Taser the city will be using delivers a 50,000 volt charge, Collins explained that it is the device’s low amperage that makes it a safe and effective weapon.

“It delivers between .036 and .04 joules per pulse,” the instructor said. “Compare that to your defibrillators used by EMTs which operate between 150 and 400 joules.”

While Taser recommends hitting an individual with no more than five five-second cycles, Collins said that he recommends that if two or three don’t incapacitate the offender, the officer should regroup.

“I can imagine that only happening if there is a low muscle mass hit or if the second probe doesn’t make good contact,” he said.

The darts, or probes, that are launched from the handset are barbed, like a fish hook, and the weapon can deliver charges to the offender if hung in thick clothing as long as they are within two inches of the skin, he said.

Once the officer releases the trigger, or after each second cycle, the charge ends, giving the offender a chance to comply with the officer’s orders. At that point the pain is over.

“It’s an intermediate weapon, not meant to take the place of a gun, your deadly force weapon,” Collins said. “What it gives you is another choice to pepper spray or a baton. I can tell you from experience, with pepper spray, which has to hit them in the eyes, you are looking at the person being miserable for up to two hours later and you’ll still be tasting it some the next day.

And a baton can do all sorts of lasting damage.

“While being shocked it’s like blacking out, you feel the pain but you lose control and most people fall down. But, after the initial shock (with a Taser), it’s over. Afterwards you feel fatigued, like you’ve been working out hard, but 10 or 12 minutes later its over with. It just doesn’t carry the risks of injury that pepper spray or a baton do.”

The Wrens City Council adopted its official Taser policy and procedures at its December council meeting.

The policy defines the Tasers that the city will use, the responsibilities of the chief, shift supervisor and officers regarding the weapons as well as instructions on when and how officers facing potential use of force situations when they should be used.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office has been using another model of Taser for several months now and the City of Wadley is also working on a Taser policy which was tabled and is expected to be discussed in January.




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