A Shocking Tale - MPs get the full Taser experience
March 22, 2013
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Last Friday, I intentionally let someone use a Taser on me. It's important to get that out of the way before we go any further. It wasn't an accident or a misunderstanding: I asked a sheriff's deputy to perform a "drive stun" on me. You might find a few people who'd tell you about the times when I was only metaphorically "asking for it" but Friday wasn't one of them. I was actually on my good behavior, diligently taking photos of a training exercise inside a classroom at the 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment. Richland County sheriff's deputies were training Fort Jackson police on the use of Tasers, a tool that is being added to the utility belts of local MPs.
That training is not entirely a matter of pointing and shooting. Military police were also obliged to be on the receiving end of the high-voltage stun gun. After watching some of them get the full stun gun experience, I decided it might make for a more interesting story if I had a better understanding of what I was writing about.
"The officers get exposed to this so they know what it's going to feel like and what it's going to do to the body," said Cpl. Dominick Pagano, one of the Richland County Sheriff's Office deputies conducting last week's training. The session was required before Fort Jackson police would be allowed to carry Tasers in the line of duty, he said.
"The main reason we're doing this is to give law enforcement a tool to be able to handle resistance and potentially threatening behavior," Pagano said. "An officer doesn't have to actually put their hands on a subject, which might lead to injury. This tool allows them to be at a safe distance, but still be able to control the resistive behavior."
The day's training involved a variety of stun-related activities, all of which had the same conclusion. Some officers were subjected to darts fired into their back from the Taser gun, which left them facedown and helpless. Others received a shock from alligator clips attached to the gun, which also left them facedown and helpless. Others, like myself, received a drive stun to the leg while already laying facedown and helpless, which hardly seems fair, but required less work on my part.
Profanity also made an appearance in most of the Taser examples, my own included. In the first draft of this story, I included a list of all the nasty words shouted by myself and the military police officers during Friday's exercise, but my editors cut them from the story. If you e-mail me, I'll send you the unredacted list. (Editor's note: No, he won't.)
This portion of the training ended on a much lighter note than it started. Some of those involved were sweating bullets waiting for their turn to be stunned. Most of the session felt like a line for a roller coaster. You could tell which of us had already endured the experience because our smiles didn't look plastered on. After a while, though, the tension eased, even for those of us last in line.
Pagano said the spectrum of emotions witnessed during Friday's event was typical.
"The (officers who get stunned) typically are very nervous in the beginning, but afterward there's a sense of pride, a sense of accomplishment, and they understand what it's fully about," he said. "Once it's over, it's over, and there are no lingering effects."
"It started off slow at first, but once we got into it, it almost became fun. Especially if you weren't the one getting stunned," said Maj. Brad Fisher, provost marshal for Fort Jackson. "I've been through it before, but it's good to get the capability to use Tasers here at Fort Jackson. It's a good tool for our officers to have."