Tasing. An electric shock that debilitates men, women and an occasional dog of all sizes, giving law enforcement officials the opportunity to get out-of-control people under control in just a few seconds. It’s also one of the tools of the trade that seems to garner media attention every time it’s used. Hop online and videos of people getting tased are all over the place. Most of them are for shock value, encouraging communities to show outrage. But are they really all that bad?

“With a taser, the goal is control—not punishment,” explained Lt. Tim Winder of the Cleveland Police Department.

Tased: Optional

By using the X-26 taser, the electric current lasts no more than five seconds. In order to give a longer shock, the officer must hit the trigger a second time. So there is no possibility of accidentally tasing someone for prolonged periods. To make use of a taser even safer, today’s tasers have computer memories. Every time a taser is fired, the taser logs the date, time and duration of the tase. If someone complains of being tased by an officer for prolonged periods, a supervisor can plug the taser into a computer and check when the officer’s taser was shot and for how long.

In order to help officers use their tasers only when necessary and with control, officers have the opportunity to get tased. According to Lt. Winder, approximately 50 percent of CPD officers go for it. Lt. Winder said getting tased helps officers understand the pain that a taser puts suspects through. New recruit Roger Smith, a 20-year Army veteran who decided to be tased, agreed.

“The way I see it, if I’ve got to carry it and administer it—something non-lethal—I want to see what it feels like to me,” he said. “I want to see if it truly immobilizes the muscles and what it does to the body.”

Tased: Bring It

Following a lengthy Power Point presentation on the mechanics and proper use of tasers, Smith stood up and walked to the front of the training room at the Police Services Center. He has experienced pain in the military, but suspected he’d not suffered anything like the pain of getting hit by a taser. Though he initially wanted to get hit for one second, Smith beefed it up to the full five when a handful of officers came to the room to watch.

While Lt. Winder placed a couple of alligator clips on Smith’s clothes, the attending officers chatted and smiled at each other. They all knew what Smith was about to find out. With an officer on either side of Smith to keep him from falling, it was time for the tase.

“You ready, Roger?” Lt. Winder asked, taser in hand.

“Bring it.”

Suddenly, the tase began. The taser sounded like an entire city of people jumping rapid fire on bubble wrap. But the sound of Smith overpowered the taser. It was a single sound—a moan that lasted two seconds before breaking. Then it picked up at a higher pitch for two short spurts.

After five seconds, Smith’s eyes were popping out of his head.

“The man took it,” someone laughed, “and didn’t go down.”

Someone else encouraged him to do it again.

“That’s powerful,” Smith said. “That’s something else!”

A moment after being tased, Smith said he had no effects. He could even hear everyone around him and was aware of his surroundings during the tase. He had no tingling anywhere, but did remember the pain.

“It just locks you up and it’s painful, but there’s nothing you can do. You can’t stop the pain,” Smith said. “It just keeps coming and coming.”

That’s why few opt for a second voluntary tase. It’s also why it’s such a great tool for law enforcement when dealing with unruly suspects.

Published in Bradley News Weekly.