Human effects testing: An Electronic Control Device comparison
By Chris Myers, Rick Wyant, and Tom Burns
Since widespread use of ECDs is relatively new, objective testing protocols are likewise not well established. In 2006, Stinger Stun Systems, Inc. introduced a four-dart projectile stun-gun. This device was tested and several deficiencies were found that led to the redesign of the device. We learned a great deal about testing ECDs side by side during that first generation of tests.
Several agencies expressed interest in evaluating this new entry into the less-lethal market, but weren’t sure how to conduct realistic comparisons to obtain results that would translate to real world results. The most critical aspect of this testing is the human effects testing. All of the other features simply don’t matter if the device does not stop a focused aggressor.
We obtained two Stinger S-200 units to compare to the TASER X26 model.
At twelve feet, the probes from the Stinger S-200 averaged nine inches of spread. The Taser X26 averaged 22 inches of spread. The Stinger probes were greatly improved over the previous model. The Stinger probes were notably contaminated with residue from the propellant. These measurements were used to place the leads in human effects exposures. We were able to enlist eight volunteers from a variety of backgrounds.
The volunteers were given a goal, as focus is very important. Initially we instructed the volunteers that after a count-down to the ECD cycle, they were to charge a sparring bag seven feet away and punch the bag. One of the first volunteers was able to perform that task, and upon completion of the task, when there was no longer a focus, he stopped fighting through the effects and went to the ground to ride out the remainder of the cycle. This made it very clear to us that a goal-oriented focus is critical to the realistic testing of these devices. Both models generate discomfort. If the subject is asked to simply stand there and endure the cycle, then they are only comparing the sensations perceived. Many of the offenders that police officers are using ECDs to stop are drunk, high, or very focused, so perceived pain is not an effective deterrent.
We then changed our directions to the volunteers. The remaining volunteers were told to charge at the sparring bag seven feet away, attack the bag and continue their attack, pushing the spotter off the mats and continuing to attack until the cycle ended or they were told to stop. The volunteers were also told that each device was different, and that they should not allow the effects of one device to influence their efforts with the other.
The results of this testing were very clear. All eight volunteers were able to travel the seven feet to the sparring bag, and deliver effective impact force during the cycle of the Stinger S-200. Several volunteers were able to attack aggressively enough to push the spotter backwards off the mat.
All eight volunteers were disabled by the Taser X26 and were dropped to the ground.
During post-exposure interviews, many of the volunteers described the feeling of the X26 exposure as overwhelming or helpless. The volunteers agreed that the Stinger S-200 was painful, but that pain focused their aggression, and made them want to fight harder. These results were consistent regardless of training or background. We had volunteers that ranged from college students with no fighting or weapons backgrounds to working police officers with extensive defensive tactics training. Experience appeared to play no role in the effectiveness of the devices, but rather mental focus and the willingness to fight through discomfort.
We believe that human effects testing based upon a focused aggressive subject must be the first standard for comparing ECD models. All of the other features, including price, are irrelevant if the device will not drop the combative subjects it is intended to stop.
Video of this testing, and additional details are available online at www.CRTLessLethal.com
Chris Myers is a Police Officer and Instructor on Less Lethal Options including ECDs, Specialty Impact Munitions, and Chemical Agents, Team Tactics and Demonstration Management.
Tom Burns is a Police Officer and Instructor on Less Lethal Options including Specialty Impact Munitions, Chemical Agents, Crowd Control Tactics, Team Tactics, and ECDs.
All three authors work together to test various less lethal options under realistic conditions and instruct officers to effectively apply this technology within its limitations. For more information please visit www.CRTLessLethal.com
CRT Less-Lethal, Inc.
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