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Becoming a police officer naturally includes going through the training processes that are required of each potential officer. And in my experience, the burning question on many candidates’ minds before they even start their training is “Do you have to get tased in the police academy?”
Let me assure you; you are not alone in this uneasiness. It’s normal to feel it.
I’ve got several friends that are police officers, who recounted their first experience with exposure training. They all felt the angst, the anticipation, but most of all, the pure terror of the thought of being hit by so much electricity that they become completely incapacitated.
In fact, one friend (we’ll call him Bob) told me he got so nervous about being tased (along with CS gas and OC spray) that he wasn’t even able to pay attention in class before he got to the field exercises.
Listening to Bob tell his story about exposer training piqued my curiosity, so I decided to do some digging myself. In case any readers decide to become a police officer one day – here’s your answer!
Is it necessary for police officers?
The answer is a little more detailed than a simple yes or no. For instructors, taser exposure is absolutely a requirement.
But for those in police academy training, it depends on your department.
For instance, if your department doesn’t issue tasers, then you will not be required to have any taser training. This means you may be lucky enough to forego having to experience the wrath of a taser. Just know that this means you won’t have that tool in your repertoire, either.
However, if you want to be certified to use and licensed to carry a taser, then you will have to go to through the proper training, which does require exposure. There are several reasons for this.
Why you need to go through exposure training
There are a couple reasons that you need to have already felt the effects a taser has on you, before using a taser in the field. Each reason is equally important, in my opinion:
Knowing the ins-and-outs of being tased
As a police officer, there will be times that you are dealing with very difficult people.
At times, these individuals will be aggressive and actively threatening you. The taser is a way to mitigate that threat when you are unable to subdue that individual.
When appropriately and responsibly deployed, tasers can be a handy tool for law enforcement personnel. But you have to know when to implement this tool and how it will affect the body.
Questions like “what probe locations are most effective” and “why are they most effective” are best answered by having the first-hand experience.
It takes one to know one
The second, and most important, reason you need to be hit by the probes of a taser is so you have an idea of what will happen to somebody when utilizing this tool.
Recently, tasers have been elevated to a higher level of force than they once were. This means that it is now considered a more severe step in EOF procedures (Escalation of Force), and should only be deployed when somebody is an active threat to the officer.
Because of that (as well as the fact that it makes your body seize up), it is important that officers know exactly how it feels to have tasers weaponized against you.
Knowing how painful it is to be tased, you’re less likely to use that force unless absolutely necessary. That feeling of empathy is precisely why it is essential to experience being tased. Knowing that pain first hand can help prevent officers from abusing the taser.
Knowing the effects of a Taser
Understanding the effects of a taser, and consequently, how the human body reacts to it, is instrumental to being able to deploy a taser at the right time, in the right manner, and within the confines of the law.
We all are comfortable saying that being tased hurts like hell. Even if you have yet to experience what it does to your body, there is likely no doubt in your mind that the pain you experience is immense. But it’s something of a rite of passage.
Just look at these officers being tased:
And sure, that is true. But the point of a taser is not necessarily to inflict pain.
Instead, the primary objective behind tasing somebody is to send enough voltage through the body to cause the muscles to seize up; a phenomenon called neuromuscular incapacitation. Unfortunately for the person being tased, extreme pain is a direct result of that neuromuscular incapacitation.
Tasers work by using two probes delivering very high voltage. but with very low amperage. This allows the weapon to achieve neuromuscular incapacitation, without causing any serious long-term damage to the body.
Where police tasers differ from civilian stun guns is that they can be used from a longer distance, rather than having to be right next to your target.
Tasers typically shoot two probes, up to 30 feet away (civilian models generally reach only half of that distance). Once the probes penetrate the clothing, they emit currents, which completes a circuit and administers an electric shock through the target.
Taser – Brand vs. Weapon Type
Similar to the way we automatically call a tissue “Kleenex” or when we call all hot tubs “Jacuzzis,” a “Taser” is just one of the brands that produce electroshock weapons.
If you are thinking about becoming a police officer and the only thing holding you back is the POSSIBILITY of being tased; let me say this – don’t worry about this portion of the police academy. And this is coming from people who have experienced it first hand.
First, if your department doesn’t use tasers, then you won’t have to go through the training for them.
Second, as painful as tasers are (and the videos don’t lie, it is painful) it only lasts for five seconds. The moment the shockwaves stop running through your body, the pain subsides.
The truth is, by all accounts, OC spray exposure is worse than the taser exposure by far.
And it doesn’t even hurt nearly as bad. But that damn circuit you have to complete after being sprayed looks like a pain in the ass – check it out in the video below: