One painful lesson: MPs train with tasers
March 11, 2014
FORT HOOD, Texas - What does a shock of electricity coursing through your body feel like? Several soldiers with the 89th Military Police Brigade understand exactly how that feels after taser training at Fort Hood as part of a 12-day course Mar. 5, 2014.
The course focused on the basic policies and procedures used for force escalation at Fort Hood.
"Today, they are concentrating on taser certification," said Capt. Jonathan Caylor, a police officer and supervisor for the training section of Directorate of Emergency's Special Reaction Team and a native of Austin, Texas. "Part of our certification process to this level of force is that they get exposed to the taser."
The taser portion of this course is taught in two portions: classroom environment and hands-on portion. During the class, instructors tase the MPs and teach them how to control situations by getting the person under control and secured. There were two types of tasers used during the class: cartilages (two small, dart-like electrodes, which stay connected to the main unit by conductive wire) and dry stunt (contact with the actual taser).
"We (the training department) think that it is important because if you don't understand the effects that a taser has then you won't have confidence in using it, so it builds confidence in the system," Caylor said. "Secondly, you won't know how it impacts an individual when it happens to them; the officer has a better understanding of what they are going through and how to get past the initial shock."
Caylor said, some of the questions MPs have before instructors tase them are: What is it like and how long will it hurt?
With a loud popping noise, two classmates calmly laid the trainee on the ground after his body went stiff as a board and was left paralyzed for approximately five seconds while a jolt of electricity from the taser surged through his body during class.
"I was tased on my left leg and the pain was localized on that group of muscles; it feels like running a 10-mile marathon with one leg," said Sgt. Nim Nguyen, a military police officer with the 89th MP Brigade.
Sgt. Joseph D. Schwartz, a military police officer with 410th Military Police Company, 720th MP Battalion, 89th MP Brigade from South St. Paul, Minn., added "People say that being tased is like touching an electrical fence with the full body lock up not being able to move one single muscle, but the experience is completely indescribable."
"Any time you associate electricity with a person feeling that; their immediate reaction -- it's going to hurt," Caylor said.
Learning how to use the taser gave the MPs another level of force option.
"We want to make sure that our officers have choices and use good discretion on when to use different levels of force. This is one more option to ensure they go home safe at the end of the night," Caylor said.
For the trainees this class is not only useful in understanding how to use a taser, but also when a taser should be used as an intermediate level of force.
"This training will not only give me the certifications needed for my job, but it will also help me have a better understanding of how this level of force will help me on the job," Nguyen said.
"I have a better understanding on when and how to apply an intermediate weapon when someone is not complying and is combative; I believe this level of force will save lives in the long-run rather than jumping to the use of deadly force," Schwartz said.
As an instructor and police officer, it is also good for the subjects because the taser is a less likely to cause injury versus using a hands-on approach or another level of force Caylor said.