I went through Taser training today and I faced the dilemma of deciding whether or not I would voluntarily take a 5-second exposure. When I originally heard we were getting Taser X-26’s, I immediately told myself that I would take a hit. However, after a few months of officers going through the training, I was bombarded with stories of neck and back injuries resulting from the exposures. Officers that I respected were telling me that I would have to be crazy to volunteer after they suffered weeks of neck or back pain. I heard numerous stories about how the pain was excruciating and served no practical purpose. After all, we are not required to be shot with a .40 pistol before we qualify with it.
I have to admit, all of the negative hype started weighing heavily on my mind. The thought of 5 seconds of pain did not seem as big a deterrent as a month of chronic neck pain. One of my good friends was scheduled to go to the class with me and he was determined to take a hit, which left me open to heavy ridicule if I wimped out.
When class got underway, we received a brief description of the technical specifications on the Taser X-26 and an explanation of how conductive energy devices work. We were assured that the weapon was relatively safe and then we were quickly ushered to the mat room for our voluntary exposures. Out of the 14 students going through that day’s training, 11 of them quickly made it clear that they had no intention of participating in this portion of class. One of our senior traffic officers could not wait to experience it, which left my good friend and myself.
As a supervisor, I decided that it was more important to lead by example and risk some aches and pains than it was to join the large group of wussies standing off to the side watching. I have to admit that I had some anxiety as I stepped up on the mat for my turn.
The instructor offered no small talk and within a few seconds of turning my back to him I felt the impact of the Taser. It is hard to explain the feeling, but I would liken it to an intense full body muscle cramp. It was not as painful as I imagined it would be, but I was completely immobilized for the complete 5-second cycle. As soon as the Taser finished the cycle, I felt like I could immediately begin fighting. During the 5-second hit, I was completely aware of my surroundings and could hear everything that was happening. It is important to note that the suspect will be able to do the same thing. The only side effect that I experienced was very sore calf muscles. It felt like I had suffered several severe calf cramps and the muscles were spent. Later that night, the probe impact sites were a little sore, but that was it. No neck pain, no back pain.
Benefits of taking the Hit
- The experience was very job relevant and it will give me additional credibility in court.
- I am intimately aware of how a suspect should react when they are hit with the Taser, so I will quickly figure out if I do not have a successful deployment.
- I would have no problem justifying why I felt justified in shooting a suspect who was attempting to fire a Taser at me.
- Most importantly, guys will not think that I was too afraid to take a hit. Let’s face it, we all profess to be warriors, so what is 5-seconds of pain?
If I was told that I had to choose between being pepper sprayed or hit with a Taser again, I would definitely choose the Taser. After the 5-second cycle, it is over and you are pain free.