Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Interesting things to note on tasing.

No matter how NOT afraid you may be, when you think that you might have to go hands-on with a guy that presents the high probability of a fight, you're going to get an adrenaline dump.

Even though a taser has no recoil to notice, that adrenaline is why it's a good idea to use two hands while pointing your taser device. The very lack of weight on that dang plastic dingus gives it little or no inertia to resist your involuntary adrenaline-fueled twitches. Going one-handed recently I was noticing that the guy I was addressing had a very bright red dot bouncing alarmingly all over his torso.

Tasers need both darts to hit to work. That means that dot needs to be right in the center of the broadest part of the body presented to you. If it's bouncing all over, that means your chances of getting a barb to miss are significantly increased. This also means that you've lost a beautiful opportunity to end a fight before it actually started. Someone may very likely get hurt, due to this minor glitch.

Simply putting your support hand on the taser, even at a low hold near the waist, makes all the difference.

I am not ashamed of the shake that I exhibited the other night. Nor am I proud of that shake. I simply will now plan for and train for the shake, to make sure that it doesn't affect things again. I was surprised to see it, having shot animals with firearms, having shot attacking dogs with tasers, and having come very close to shooting men with firearms. Every unique experience is one that we can learn from.

I really did not want to fight or taze this person. I'm so glad that, in the end, I did not have to.

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At Monday, December 28, 2009 10:59:00 AM, Blogger Old NFO said...

Ah yes... the bouncing red dot... It IS amazing how much an adrenal dump does to your nice steady shooting position... We did a shoot house a couple of years ago and I got to use a laser for it. Quite frankly, I was embarrassed by how much it wavered after about 4-5 minutes. The instructor told me later I was not unusual, that 'most' people in a high stress will exhibit the same 'lack' of control...

At Tuesday, December 29, 2009 1:47:00 AM, Blogger Justthisguy said...

I think this is the _real_ reason we are always advised to aim for the middle of the opponent's body; that is, that we are more likely to hit him _somewhere_ if we do that.

WV: ninger. African ninja?

At Tuesday, December 29, 2009 5:36:00 AM, Blogger makeumdothechicken said...

Unfortunately, I don't have to worry about my Taser anymore. When Taser came out recently and issued their warning about aiming lower and that a chest hit could in rare instances cause cardiac arrest my agency pulled them all off the street. They say they may retrain everyone and we will get them back but it has already been several months and we still haven't seen them.

It's a shame. It was a very valuable tool which saved both the bad guys and the cops alot of serious injuries. So, we have had to go back to the old fashioned way of taking care of business. I work in a large urban area. I'm not certain exactly how many times I deployed the Taser but I'm certain it was over 25. Out of those, 2 deployments were ineffective and for the very reason you stated. The bottom barb failed to stick in the subject. One time was my fault because I was not holding the Taser like a pistol and the angle that I held it at made the bottom barb go wide and to the right. The other time I attempted to deploy it while chasing a suspect and probably should have waited until I was closer. The top barb caught the guy in the middle of the back but due to the distance the bottom barb passed between his legs.

Another lesson I learned early on is that the drive stun is far less effective than deploying the barbs and is basically useless in a ground fight. The only thing I would use the drive stun for now is to get a drunk in the back of the car or wagon who didn't want to go peacefully. You are much better off just deploying the cartridge if at all possible. You need the spread on the barbs to light up enough muscle groups to incapacitate them.

What is truly amazing is the fact that most of the time just the sight of that red dot on their chest brings about compliance. The Taser was beautiful thing and I hope we get it back but I'm not holding my breath.

At Tuesday, December 29, 2009 8:41:00 AM, Blogger Tam said...

I tell myself that this is why I drink all that coffee and Vault Zero on the mornings I go shooting.

Of course, that excuse doesn't really hold water for me, since I drink all that coffee and Vault Zero on the mornings I don't go shooting as well. :o

Glad it ended well for you, Matt.

At Tuesday, December 29, 2009 9:41:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

makeumdothechicken, your department's choice to ditch the Taser is unfortunate and over-hasty, in my opinion.

The notice by Taser said that failure to aim lower in the front could result in a lawsuit, which they would defend vigorously. That's it.

If the Taser is so dangerous, then why do tens of thousands of cops get tased in training without consequence? The risk of using a baton or going hands-on with a truly combative person is documentably greater than the tiny perceived risk from using the Taser. Here's the thing, though: The Taser needs not to be MISused. Cops need to quit using it just because a guy doesn't want to get out of a car, or a woman walks away instead of stopping.

In this instance, the guy was reported to be armed and suicidal, and refused to comply with directions. I had the Taser down because I was talking to him. But if I hadn't been pointing a Taser at him, I would have had a pistol pointing at him. So in this case, the Taser was much, MUCH safer for all concerned. (I'm afraid that he would have tried to suicide by cop if I had pointed a gun at him. And what do you do when an empty-handed, probably unarmed man rushes you, and you're pointing a gun at him?)

At Tuesday, December 29, 2009 9:42:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

Justthisguy: No, that was the most tactical chick on Gilligan's Island.

At Tuesday, December 29, 2009 12:45:00 PM, Blogger makeumdothechicken said...


I agree. I don't think they should have pulled them. It was a decision made by lawyers and bean counters. They don't care about the public and they certainly don't care about the police. They care about money and perceived liability. To be honest, I don't think they ever really understood the Taser or where it belonged in the use of force continuum, which is at the same level as pepper spray or pain compliance techniques.

I think initially the Taser may have been overused but I don't agree that using a Taser on a subject who refuses to exit or enter the vehicle is misuse. If a subject is lying on his back kicking at you or trying to kick the window out of your squad it is less injurious to you and to him to Taser. Even if they don't want to sit down in the car after trying to convince them it is in their best interest to do so I think it is preferable to give them a drive stun than to try and muscle them in the car.

Our policy read that the Taser was for use on non-compliant, actively resisting suspects. I have to tell you that alot more people are sustaining superficial injuries since they pulled them. If you are on concrete or in a parking lot just about everytime you arm bar somebody to the ground they hit hit their head. Usually just above the right eye in my case and it splits them open. They still fell with the Taser but not with the force they hit with when you are propelling them to the ground. They just go rigid and fall (plywood effect).

You and I both know that when you first start this job everythings exciting and cool. You eventually reach a point where although you still enjoy the work it becomes about solving the problem the most effective and least injurious way possible. Nobody wants to sit in the ER for 2 hours with the mope who needs six stitches in his eyebrow before the jail will take him. And none of us wants to be the guy sitting in the ER to be the recipient of the stitches. Unfortunately, since they took the Taser both are happening much more frequently.

The truly unfortunate part in my opinion is the Taser was a true equalizer for female officers and officers of smaller stature. I'm 6'04" and 220 lbs so going hands on isn't an issue for me but some of the smaller officers really benefited in terms of having the upper hand with larger suspects due to the Taser.


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