Bamberg MPs get a jolt from training on nonlethal Taser
BAMBERG, Germany — It’s shocking what some soldiers will go through to get training.
About 25 soldiers from the 793rd Military Police Battalion in Bamberg knew their M26 Taser training would include a written test in the morning.
But the MPs got more than they bargained for in the afternoon session.
Every soldier who attended the training had to experience a burst from the Taser, which operates on 50,000 volts and 26 watts but very low amps, which means there is five seconds of pain but the electrical current is completely safe, according to Eric Niver, U.S. Army Europe Non-Lethal Weapons action officer.
Mandatory exposure to the Taser is an Army policy meant to show trainees how the burst feels and how effective it is in controlling riotous or unruly people, Niver said.
“The Taser effectively incapacitates a person without causing harm to the suspect or the police officer,” Niver said.
The burst from the Taser causes electrical muscular disruption — the suspect loses control of all muscular function for five seconds, Niver said. However, there are no long-term effects, other than the possibility of small pin-sized burns where the probes penetrate the skin.
The Taser is safe even on people with pacemakers, Niver said.
“At a convention I attended for the X26 Taser, [a smaller but more powerful version], a guy took a hit and mentioned afterward that he had recently had triple bypass surgery,” Niver said. “He was fine. It is a perfectly safe, effective tool to control a potentially dangerous situation.”
The Taser’s firing cartridge has two probes attached to 21-foot wires. Once fired, the probes need only penetrate a person’s clothing to be effective.
Several of the soldiers took full hits from the Taser, with the probes being fired at them from about eight feet away. Others had the probes attached to their uniforms and experienced the burst that way.
“I didn’t feel the probes hit,” said Master Sgt. Jeffrey Palmer, who volunteered to take a full hit, with the probes fired at him. “It was the initial shock that took me down. I lost track of time. You cannot move, and you can feel that shock moving through your entire body.”
Immediately after the hit, however, Palmer was able to stand on his own.
“This is an excellent tool, and definitely a nonlethal tool,” Palmer said. “With proper training, like we got here today, this could end a really bad situation without an MP having to pull his weapon.”
Sgt. Joseph Ward said the Taser is long overdue.
“I’ve been in bad situations before where, if I had had something like this, the situation would have gone away,” Ward said, adding that being exposed to the Taser’s burst would be a one-time thing for him. “It felt like something I never want to experience again.”
Almost everyone at the site, even members of the unit who didn’t take the course, voluntarily took hits from the Taser as a show of support that would have made the cast of “Jackass” proud.