...that is the question
By Dave Grossi
Upon first blush, you might think this column concerns itself with use of force choices or options for when a TASER device or other electronic weapon should be deployed against a resistive or aggressive subject. Not so.
A few years ago, I wrote a piece on the issue of whether police recruits should be subjected to the effects of oleoresin capsicum during basic academy training. That article created a considerable amount of feedback both verbal and written.
Most of the positive comments came from younger officers who took the “OC taste test” in the academy and who generally supported my position that all users should take a hit of the stuff before they carry it. My rationale was (and still is) that by taking a hit of pepper spray officers would know that they can indeed continue to perform their tasks while under the influence of the stuff.
As one might guess, the opinions against my position came from the more seasoned veterans who didn’t care for my thoughts on mandatory spraying. Those comments ranged from the rather bizarre: “I don’t have to get shot to know what being hit by a bullet feels like” (I love that one because it makes so much sense!) to the more reasoned: “I’ll give ‘em back my Jesus Juice before I get sprayed with it.”
Just to set the record straight, I first took the “OC taste test” -- administered with considerable glee by my old teaching buddy Jerry Konrad -- when I underwent OCAT Instructor certification eons ago back when we both had a full head of dark brown hair. I’ve since “field tested” dozens of OC variations and strengths. I’m still seeing clearly, my nose doesn’t run constantly and I even enjoy crushed red pepper on my lasagna.
I’ve also received TASER exposure as part of my Master TASER Instructor certification by another dear friend who shall remain nameless because he enjoyed it far too much. While not as painful or as long-lasting as red pepper in the eyes, the experience was pretty electrifying, to say the least. Of particular interest was the recovery rate….about a minute; unlike my OC experiences which ordinarily took between 25 to 30 minutes or more depending on whether I had any Sudacon wipes handy or not.
It’s been about 4 years since I got that 5-second TASER zap, and from what I hear from my family and friends, I don’t drool when I eat, don’t shake uncontrollably during lightning storms or exhibit any signs of Tourette Syndrome when I teach my use of force classes.
In other words, there were no long-lasting negative effects from experiencing a TASER application, but I realized a keen sense of what the “bad guys” are likely to experience when they get zapped. And I learned that the temporary debilitating experience with the TASER usually lasts about a minute.
But how does one learn those important factoids? Two ways. One way is through hearsay evidence because someone else, like your instructor, told you so. The second way is via first-hand experience; you know it because that’s how fast you recovered after you were tazed.
Think about it.
About the author
Dave Grossi is a retired police lieutenant and force training commander from upstate New York now residing in southwest Florida. A certified instructor in virtually all force disciplines (defensive tactics, firearms, OC, Taser, edged weapons, impact weapons and weapon retention), he testifies frequently in defense of officers in use of force cases. He welcomes your comments.