‘Taser, Taser, Taser’

Officers learn to use upgraded model
By 
KATHLEEN GILLULY
Outlook managing editor
Officer Fred Gregory practices using the X2 during a training session for all Laurel police officers last Wednesday. Note the laser sight allows Officer Gregory to stun a suspect who may be rolling under a car or trying to evade the police.

Officer Fred Gregory practices using the X2 during a training session for all Laurel police officers last Wednesday. Note the laser sight allows Officer Gregory to stun a suspect who may be rolling under a car or trying to evade the police.

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Detective Jason Wells demonstrates how the barbs and afids go securely back into the taser cartridge to be preserved as evidence.

Detective Jason Wells demonstrates how the barbs and afids go securely back into the taser cartridge to be preserved as evidence.

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“Taser, Taser, Taser.” shouted loudly is a warning that should be heeded. By the time an officer invokes that standard caution, he or she has already ordered an uncooperative suspect to stop what they are doing. Immediately after this final caution, the taser will be deployed. The warning is as much for nearby officers and bystanders as the target. Because momentarily all the suspect will be feeling is incapacitation and pain from electricity coursing into muscles, overriding the brain’s control of the central nervous system, according to Axiom, formerly Taser, the company that produces the devices for law enforcement.

“Using the ‘taser, taser, taser,’ alert is important because, as you’ll see, it makes a loud pop,” Detective Jason Wells said before demonstrating the latest tool in their arsenal to other officers in the department last week. “Another officer or suspect could think a gun was in use.”

Officers use electronic control devices to make an arrest or gain control over a suspect. Not only does it protect the officer and bystanders, but it could be a lifesaver, according to Det.Wells, who is one of two Taser trainers for the 13-man Laurel police force.

“All our officers have to know how to use the new Tasers. The X2 has additional features that the model we were using didn’t,” he said. “These have the capability of incapacitating more than one suspect and of easily controlling one or both of them, if necessary.” The company used input from police to design the new model, Det. Wells said. One new feature allows officers to trigger the stun gun feature displaying arcing electricity at the end of the barrel as a warning without shooting the barbs that deliver the jolt. Often, just the sight of that is enough to stop a suspect, Wells said.

Although the suspect may not feel the sensation of the two probes entering their skin, at the end of the electrifying experience, they will certainly feel the new double-hooked barbs being removed.

Tasers have come a long way since the first-generation stun devices. Prior to 2001, the weapons inflicted severely unpleasant sensations without causing an automatic loss of muscle control. Designers just hoped the sensation would be so painful that the criminal would gladly cooperate, if not beg for mercy. Those designs proved ineffective against some people who while on drugs or with high pain thresholds were not immobilized.

In 2001, Taser developed systems with a stronger charge that reached nerves lodged deep in muscle tissue. With up to 60 pulses per second, Tasers can induce sustained muscle contractions, and they inflict extremely high levels of pain.

Still, there were a few drawbacks. The old Taser models were a one-shot-and-done, potentially leaving officers vulnerable. As the name indicates, the X2 can fire two shots with accuracy guided by dual laser lights. Individual toggle switches control follow-up jolts to the one or two suspects tagged.

The new Taser X2 cartridges serve dual purposes. The cartridges are recessed in the housing, so they can’t be knocked out of place, and, as demonstrated by Det. Wells, they serve to house the removed barbs for preserving evidence, including DNA.

“Each time the Taser is deployed it leaves behind afids,” Det. Wells said. “Those tiny pieces of paper confetti are numbered to match each deployment.” Several will be picked up each time the Taser is used and kept with the rest of the evidence.

As of Monday, every officer in Laurel has received training on the X2, so criminals beware. Follow orders or “Taser, Taser, Taser,” could end up being the stuff of your nightmares.

 

(Ed. note: see www.youtube.com/watch?v=hao7a7Sgi8w to see me riding the lightening courtesy of the Laurel Police Department during a 2016 training. Take a good look because like most folks who have experienced tasing, I will do anything to avoid a repeat performance.)

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