For years law enforcement has been searching for more effective less lethal options to apprehend suspects. One of the newest technologies available is the Taser, also known by industry standards as an electronic controlled device (ECD). The Taser uses electricity to override the central nervous system, an effect referred to as “neuro-muscular incapacitation (NMI), to cause temporary incapacitation to allow officers to gain control of a subject. Electronic controlled devices basically use high voltage, low wattage electrical charges to induce involuntary muscle contractions that cause a subject to be temporarily incapacitated. The weapon system is designed to fire two probes, or darts, that are attached to insulated wires. When the probes make contact with a person, the Taser will produce 50,000 volts of electricity, but only .0021 amps. According to Taser International, Inc. “it is not the volts that are dangerous it is the amps.” Volts are simply the rate the electricity is moving, but amps are the measure of current in the electricity. Taser International (2006) In 1993, two brothers, Rick and Tom Smith along, with Taser inventor Jack Cover, began working together on a non-lethal self-defense device. In 1994, they developed a non-firearm version of the Taser. This original Taser was known as a “stun” system, which used electricity to jam the central nervous system with electrical noise. This system used approximately five to fifteen watts of power and was more of a pain compliance device rather than overriding the central nervous system. Two serious issues occurred with these “stun” systems: The officer had to be up close to make contact with the subject; and since it was a pain compliance device, it could be overcome by subjects under the influence of alcohol or drugs and emotionally disturbed individuals.
In 1998, Taser International introduced the Advanced M26 Taser version to the law enforcement community. This system was the next step in the evolution of the Taser as it went from a pain compliance device to the NMI. This system used between 16 and 26 watts of power, 50,000 volts, and affected both the sensory and motor nervous systems causing uncontrollable muscle spasms to the subject. The Taser technology uses similar electrical pulses, as used by the human nervous system to communicate to it and overrides those impulses causing the desired affect. With the development of the M26 Taser, Taser International addressed the two serious issues mentioned above. By utilizing a replaceable cartridge that fires probes, it gave the officer distance between the subject and himself. The distance gives the officers the ability to react to a subject’s action and reduces the potential for immediate injury to the officer. The second is advancing from a pain compliance device to a neuro-muscular incapacitation device, which causes temporary incapacitation to the subject and allows the officer(s) time to approach the subject and gain control of the subject. The latest version of the Taser has improved not only on the size of the device but also on the technology and effectiveness. The new X26 Taser still uses the same amount of power, but what Taser International has done is improve on introducing the electricity into the body. Taser found approximately 90% of the energy was lost upon impact to the subject’s body with the M26 Taser. Taser International developed a new “shaped pulse” technology that reduced this lost energy and made it more effective. Taser International claims the new X26 Taser is 5% more effective and 60% smaller and lighter than its predecessor the M26 Taser. The M26 Taser used a simple high energy or “blunt” pulse to penetrate barriers such as skin and clothes to enter the body. With the X26 Taser, Taser International improved to the new shaped pulse technology, which uses a highly refined energy that is shaped to first penetrate the barrier with minimal loss of energy,...
References: Amnesty International (2007) Amnesty International. (2007). USA: Amnesty International 's concerns about Taser use: Statement to the US Justice Department inquiry into deaths in custody. doi:AMR 51/151/2007
Taser International (2006). Instructor Certification Lesson Plan (Version 13.0 ed., Rev.). Scottsdale, Arizona: Taser International.
Vilke, G. M., Sloane, C., Levin, S., Neuman, T., Castillo, E., & Chan, Tc. (2008, January). Twelve-lead electrocardiogram monitoring of subjects before and after voluntary exposure to the Taser X26. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18082773?dopt=Citation
Taser International (2006)
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