06/29/2011

2011 TASER Conference: A busy and rewarding week

We spent time with all of TASER’s devices — the X26, X3, Shockwave, the shotgun-fired XREP, and their newest device, the X2

The 2011 TASER Conference and Master Instructor School is now in the books. Co-hosted by the Glendale (Ariz.) Police Department, the course was mentally and physically challenging. Although a busy week, it was rewarding as well. Not only did I have the opportunity to meet and train with several hundred of my law enforcement colleagues, but gained a considerable amount of insight into TASER International, their people, their products and their technology.

Now, before you go thinking that I’m simply a mouthpiece for TASER International, I’d like to point out a few things. When, in 2006 I was tasked by my agency to look into the viability of TASER use in my department, I started out as a skeptic. As a defensive tactics and use of force instructor for a number of years, I had had limited exposure (pun not intended, although it fits) to TASERs and their associated technology. In fact, although still open-minded, I was a bit apprehensive about the concept mainly because I was aware of the controversy that surrounded them and their use.

My apprehension, however, turned out to be short lived. Based upon the information I readily found available on the subject — including vast volumes of research — I realized that most of the negative rhetoric was undeserved and perpetuated by many who lacked a clear understanding of the devices and technology. Then there were others who based their negative opinions on emotion rather than rational or logical thought.

Now, five years later, TASER is still here and going strong, expanding their product line and equipping more officers than ever. They have a record of 127 and 1 when it comes to litigation, and with new information coming forth, that one in the ‘loss’ column is moving closer to a ‘win.’ I’m not going to go into a lesson here on the technology behind electronic control devices (ECDs) like the TASER, but I will tell you that I believe in these devices and those manufactured by TASER International in particular.

Throughout the week, we spent time with all of TASER’s devices — the X26, X3, Shockwave, the shotgun-fired XREP, and their newest device, the X2. Having been a TASER Instructor for several years, I was very familiar with the X26. The X3, Shockwave and XREP were all interesting, but the X2 was the device that particularly caught my eye.

The New X2
What I can best describe as somewhat of a hybrid between the X26 and the X3, the new X2 is a two-cartridge device designed to give the officer an immediate backup shot or the ability to engage two targets at once. The X2 is only slightly larger that the X26 but fires the same “Smart Cartridge” used by the X3. And like its X3 big brother, the X2 is equipped with an “ARC” switch that allows the user to display a warning arc without having to remove a cartridge, re-energize an already fired cartridge or the ability to switch to the second cartridge. The ARC switch (ARC stands for Arc display, Re-energize and Cartridge advance) is mounted on both sides of the body of the device just forward of the trigger. The X2 can also be configured in a semi-automatic mode that allows both cartridges to be deployed by trigger pull as well.

Upgrade from X26
I can tell you from first-hand experience that this thing works and works well. Whereas the X2 can be used on two separate targets, both cartridges can be deployed on one target as well. In fact, that is where the X2 comes into its own, particularly when compared with the X26. With both cartridges successfully deployed on a single target, there will be four probes delivering the charge. Not only do you have a charge traveling between probes one and two, three and four, but you also have completed circuits between probes one and four, three and two.

In other words, you have what TASER refers to as cross-connect. If that’s not enough, you are receiving a pulse rate of nineteen (19) pulses per second per cartridge, the same as the X26. However, with two X2 cartridges going simultaneously at nineteen pulses per second, you now have a total of thirty-eight pulses per second AND the cross-connect of the arcs between the various probes.

That’s how I spent five seconds of Tuesday morning’s segment.

A Great Week
Like I said before, it was a great week filled with high points. There were around 250 new and recertifying master instructors present, from all over the United States and even a few from abroad. The Glendale area is absolutely beautiful and even the temperature was wonderful.

We spent about half of the week at the Glendale Regional Public Safety Training Center. That place is incredible and one of the most state-of-the-art facilities I have ever seen. I had to snicker, though, as we approached the facility. In keeping with the theory that firing ranges & training facilities are usually placed next to either the landfill or the waste-water treatment plant, GRPSTC is adjacent to the landfill.

The tour of the TASER building was spectacular and the chance to deploy all of the various TASER devices (repeatedly, I might add) was a blast. One of the biggest things I walked away with after the week was finished (besides a feeling of accomplishment) was an even better understanding of TASER ECD technology and even more confidence in the device and its concept. I urge any law enforcement officer or agency to take a hard look at and give consideration to the X2 before purchasing or replacing their TASER devices. I say that not only as a TASER Master Instructor, but as a patrol officer as well.

You and your officers will be well served.

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