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Riding the Lightning

Spartan Cops

by Matt on January 19, 2009

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

  1. The experience was very job relevant and it will give me additional credibility in court.
  2. 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.
  3. I would have no problem justifying why I felt justified in shooting a suspect who was attempting to fire a Taser at me.
  4. 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.

Posted with permission from Spartan Cops from the post “Riding the Lightening.” Please visit that blog for more law enforcement blog content. ###

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  1. Radar Says:

    When I rode the lightning for the full 5 seconds, immediately after I felt fine. Much better than I did during the 5-seconds (that felt like an hour). However about 15 minutes later, as I was walking to my car to go home, I suddenly felt a sharp and excruciating pain in my back, and fell flat on my ass on the ground as I was no longer able to stand.

    After a week of intense back pain, I felt better after exercising the stiff muscles in my back. For me anyway, i’m not sure which I would be more willing to take next time, the CS, or the lightning.

    I do agree though, if it had only been 5 seconds and I did not have in adverse effects, I’d probably go for the taser again.

    I’ve got a co-worker who is also a Taser instructor. He said he’s been tased so many times he has lost count. Thankfully, I have no interest in being an instructor.

    Great article, thanks for your thoughts on your experience!

  2. Reca Says:

    I also took a hit during taser training. I agree that after the hit was over I was pain free. The hit did hurt like hell but I was glad I took it. However the next morning I felt very sore, as if I ran a marathon. Nothing serious but I felt very fatigued. Well worth it and I am impressed with how well this tool works.

    Thank you for providing O/R with a great article.

  3. Jks9199 Says:

    Took the hit, and the full ride. No aftereffects worth mentioning, other than the small burns from the probes. I think it’s a good thing to take the hit; I can state with absolute certainty that if someone’s threatening me with a Taser, and they get a successful hit — then I won’t be able to defend myself. Meaning I’m 100% vulnerable… and the civilian model has a 30 second ride. Yeah, I think I can justify meeting a threat of a Taser with lethal force.

  4. Jenna Says:

    Thanks for the very vivid description! It does make it harder for anyone to think of tasers as dangerous when cops are volunteering to take hits from them.

  5. Five-0 Says:

    Excellent description. After hearing all the critics some people would think you are lucky to be alive. Some of us just wish we were given the chance to carry a taser.

  6. pgg Says:

    We are supposed to be getting tasers soon according to the Chief. Now we have to wait for policy/training etc. I will take the ride also.

  7. altonc27 Says:

    Took the hit and full ride. Beyond the fact I had a prong in my butt cheek I would do it again. The Taser is a good and effectuve weapon. Nice Read

  8. Snuffy2202 Says:

    I also took the 5 second ride. I’m glad I experineced it fully. Now, I can testify in court as to the effect. Oh yeah, I can also brag to my friends that I did it! Ha!

  9. Sandra Says:

    I took a hit from the X26 when we qualified on them, and I would much rather get tasered than peppersprayed. Yes, it hurt like hell, but once it was over the pain was gone. Not like getting sprayed and having the residual effects be a nuisance for hours (in my case).

    Great blog – I’ll be back!

  10. JSO85360 Says:

    I took the five second ride with probes (others in the class got to choose 2-5 seconds, and were alligator clipped to save money). I had just turned 50, was on high blood pressure medicine, and a little apprehensive. I just relaxed and went into a slow breathing exercise, and once I was hit, I just stood there, paralyzed, until it was over. I never fell, but I had no control over my muscles. I’m thinking because I was relaxed and well balanced, I was able to just stand there, frozen, until it was over. When it ended, it was done. no after effects whatsoever. I’ll take the ride before I’ll take the CS spray again, anytime!

  11. Darth Z Says:

    I was somewhat apprehensive about riding the lighting when I was certified. At the beginning of the class, the instructor asked who wanted to volunteer. I wanted to, but when noone else volunteered, I didn’ t want to be the only idiot volunteering for it. After our last break, the instructor said we had atleast one volunteer, ended up being about eight of us. Watched six of them take it, and it seemed like less than an enjoyable experience.

    I was in no rush, and told the other volunteer that she was in line before me. He took both of us, had us lay down, interlock arms, then used the alligator clips on the waistbands of our pants. Mid sentence, he lit us up. It was definitely the longest 5 seconds of my life! It was a very uncomfortable feeling, and didn’ t “hurt” so much. More like pulsating pressure through-out my body. The only thing I can relate to pain, is the mild burn from the alligator clip.

    Some of my co-workers say that it very painful, and some would sooner take chemical agents over the TASER. I would consider it a certain degree of discomfort, but not pain. I mean…it’ s not like smashing your thumb with a hammer or anything!

    I think everyone should experience it just once, to know what they are dealing with. It would show why they need proper weapon retention, and also what can happen to them, if they do let a TASER out of their control.

  12. Roller2200 Says:

    Took the five seconds. They shot me in my back while being held by two class mates. They let me drop a little too hard, causing one of the leads to pop out. Seeing this, the instructor immediately followed up with a drive-stun to my calf while I was laying face down on the mat. Needless to say, I got more than five seconds. AND IT SUCKED BIG TIME!!!!


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