By Pfc. Emily Knitter, 1HBCT Public AffairsJune 23, 2011
FORT STEWART Ga. - Five seconds. It’s just an instant, barely a thought in everyday life.
But when Human-Electro Muscular Incapacitation impulses are transmitting 19 pulses per second through wires and two probes shot into the body, five seconds can feel a lot longer.
For military police Soldiers across 3rd Infantry Division, those few seconds are not something they will forget any time soon.
“They Tazer us so we know how it feels, that way we don’t go overboard when Tazering somebody,” said Spc. Richard Rodriguez, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1/3 Brigade Special Troops Battalion. “So then we know that five seconds is painful enough, and you have that five-second window to apprehend the subject.”
Being Tazered is part of a Fort Stewart mandated Law Enforcement Certification process all Military Police man must complete.
The certification is a three-week course, beginning at the Soldier’s unit level for a week and then combining MP Soldiers from across the division for training under the 385th MP Battalion for two weeks, said Sgt. 1st Class Arnaldo Colon, an operations sergeant with the 293rd MP Co., a native of Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico, and an instructor during the Tazer section of LECERT.
Soldiers also have to experience Oleoresin Capsicum spray, more commonly known as pepper spray.
Pepper spray, a chemical compound that irritates the eyes and causes tears, pain and sometimes temporary blindness, is authorized to be carried by military police and used as crowd control or personal self-defense. In order to carry the weapon, the Soldiers are required to be sprayed and then complete a five-station Oleoresin Capsicum Combat Qualification Course, which includes practicing self-defense and apprehension techniques.
“I didn’t expect it to be as bad as it was,” said Pfc. William Currier, also with HHC, 1/3 BSTB, and a native of Port St. Lucie, Fla. “But when you get sprayed it is kind of like a kick, it just happens. You can’t really see, you are just trying to go towards the little blurs.”
The course consisted of knee strikes to the legs, direct baton strikes, forward and backward baton strikes, blocking techniques and apprehension.
“It’s definitely painful, you can’t see anything,” added Spc. Rodriguez, a native of Fairfax, Va. “You try to open your eyes and pain just rushes to your entire face and it’s just a sensation of burning.”
Understanding the pain and being able to continue performing their job while under the spray’s effects was the biggest goal of the course.
“Just in case on the job we get sprayed while we are spraying a subject, then we know what the feeling is and how to perform while under the pressure,” said Pfc. Currier.
Although painful, both experiences were beneficial, said Spc. Dustin Knight, of HHC, 1/3 BSTB, and a native of Marion, Ind.
“It is kind of nerve-wracking in the beginning because you don’t know what to expect if you have never done it,” he explained. “But after it’s all said and done it’s a good experience. It is probably the best hands on training I’ve ever had.”
The Soldiers are now certified and authorized to carry OC spray and Tazers while on duty.
“It definitely gives you a sense of safety to be able to use the non-lethal force,” said Spc. Rodriguez. “Back in the day it was just a baton and a pistol, so now you get to have a means to control a subject without having to cause adverse damage on them.”