Magazine article Law & Order

The Latest TASER Technology

Magazine article Law & Order

The Latest TASER Technology

Article excerpt

In late 2001, about 20 departments in the United States, including San Diego, Sacramento, Albuquerque and Reno, had the Advanced TASER M26 for every patrol officer. Today, more than 200 departments of all sizes are fully deployed. And over 2500 law enforcement agencies are using the M26 in at least some level of deployment.

Now there is a new kid on the block being produced by TASER International. At the 2003 TASER Tactical Conference and Master Instructor School held in Orlando, FL, in May 2003, attendees got an advanced look at the new TASER X26 with Shaped Pulse Technology- a lighter, smaller weapon that integrates new technology, making it more effective and easier to use. It is now in production and being shipped.

The M26 points and feels very much like a duty pistol but has bright yellow striped markings. It was shaped this way for ease of training by taking advantage of hand motions and muscle memory already in place, and to increase accuracy under stress.

The firing end of the TASER is a hollow square that contains two contacts. A small, rectangular cartridge is snapped into the end. When the trigger is pulled, compressed nitrogen blows two plastic, protective doors away from the cartridge and shoots two metal probes or darts up to 15 or 21 feet, depending on the cartridge. These darts are similar to straightened fishhooks, and remain attached to the gun on one end by thin, insulated wires.

The probes affix themselves to the clothing or skin of the assailant and an electrical jolt is sent from the gun down the wires to the probes. This current can penetrate two inches of clothing. When the assailant receives the shock, it overrides his motor nervous system, his muscles involuntarily contract, and he is incapacitated and falls to the ground.

The TASER is safe to use because it interferes with the communication between the brain and the nervous system and doesn't rely on impact or penetration, nor does it destroy nerves or muscles. And should an assailant who is still hooked up to the wires become combative again, additional pulses can be given.

Advantages of a TASER

There are many advantages to adding a TASER to a patrol officer's equipment. The main advantage is that an assailant with a knife, club or similar weapon can be incapacitated from a distance of up to 21 feet, allowing for less chance of injury to the officer and the assailant. Total incapacitation takes less than a quarter of a second. In addition, only the person who receives the shock is affected- it will not transfer to anyone touching the assailant, so officers can readily reach out to handcuff him or separate him from others if he is arm locked or restrained with another compliance hold during a civil disturbance.

The TASER can be used in locations such as hospitals or courtrooms where chemical agents can cause unwanted reactionary problems. There is no chance cross-contamination to the arresting officer or bystanders. Mental focus, training, alcohol, body size or drug induced dementia cannot override the TASER's effect. And its use will not cause long term injuries- the only injuries might be skin irritation, slight burn marks or blisters where the probes attach to the skin.

Studies have shown that the electricity produced will not interfere with a pacemaker nor will it cause a heart attack. And often, just displaying the weapon or threatening to use it, especially when the bad guy sees the red laser dot, will elicit compliance and keep a situation from escalating.

The Advanced TASER M26

The M26 has been used successfully by many departments since its debut in December 1999. It is about the size of a semi-automatic pistol, weighing 18 ounces with its batteries but without a cartridge. Fixed sights on the top are black, and it contains a built-in laser sight, which is activated by disengaging the safety.

Within the TASER itself is a data port that can download information to a computer- information such as how often the weapon had been used, and the time and date of each activation for the most recent 585 firings. …

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