INDEPENDENT EVALUATION REPORT OF

TASER® AND AIR TASER®

CONDUCTED ENERGY WEAPONS

 

Published by Sgt. Darren Laur

Control Tactics Co-Ordinator

Victoria Police Department

Introduction: September 10, 1999

In December of 1998, our department became the first police agency in Canada to deploy TASER® pulse wave technology weapons in a six month field study. During this testing and evaluation period, we had a total of 14 usage’s of this force option with extremely good results. Over the course of 6 months we deployed the Tasertron TE-95 TASER 14 times. In 5 cases we were able to attain voluntary compliance simply through the threat of use, or by using the laser sights on the suspect. In the remaining cases, the unit was fired at the suspect and caused incapacitation, allowing the officers to arrest the suspect without further incident. In all cases, the subject fully recovered within minutes without injury or after-effect. Since the release of our study, I have been inundated with phone calls from Canadian police departments and correctional agencies wanting information on the TASER and the results of our study. ( I have attached a copy of our report to this discussion paper)

As I predicted, the floodgates in Canada for the use of TASER technology have opened up, and interest from Canadian law enforcement and correctional agencies has sparked the attention of manufactures in the United States. For years, the TASER has been a prohibited weapon in Canada and illegal to possess. In fact, there has never been a police agency in Canada that has ever used an electric stunning device for general patrol duty use. Now that a number of police agencies are showing interest in either testing or purchasing TASER technology for their departments, manufacturers, primarily Tasertron and TASER® Weapon International, in the United States see a huge potential for law enforcement sales in Canada. It is because of this fact, that I am writing this informational paper to bring to light the facts and myths that surround TASER technology.

As I stated earlier, the two major companies that both manufacture and sell TASER pulse wave technology weapons to law enforcement are, Tasertron and Taser International. I do not represent either company as a sales person, but I am an Instructor Trainer for both organizations. Because of my in-depth knowledge of both companies and the products they represent, I hope to give the reader an unbiased and truthful look at what is presently available to law enforcement agencies here in Canada in the way of TASER products and training. Knowledge and the understanding of that knowledge is power. What I hope to do with this paper is to give readers the knowledge needed to make the right decisions when considering TASER technology.

Finally, some of the information and opinions in this report may not be appreciated or even accepted by either Tasertron or TASER® Weapon International. The information in this report was accumulated from my own experience with both companies and the weapon systems they represent, and from the sharing of information from a number of law enforcement agencies and other experts in the field of TASER technology in the United States. It should also be noted that both Tasertron and TASER® Weapon International had the opportunity to review this document prior to its release, and requested some changes. In some cases, these changes were made in the interest of fairness to both companies. Both Tasertron and TASER® Weapon International have endorsed this report, but reserve the right to disagree with some of my opinions. Both Tasertron andTASER International are Copyrighted names.  TASER® and AIR TASER® are registered trademarks.

SEE COMPARISON CHART FOR OVERVIEW

TASER History:

In the mid 1960’s as a result of the civil unrest in the United States, President Lyndon Johnson formed a blue ribbon crime commission to look at ways of quelling the increasing violence in their country. One of the many recommendations made by this commission was that police should be looking for new non-lethal methods at controlling violent behaviour. When the recommendations of this commission made the national media, it caught the eye of John Cover the inventor of the TASER. A couple of days after this report, Cover read another article about a hiker who had grabbed onto a high voltage wire and became frozen to it for several hours, but lived to tell his story. As a result of these two media reports, John Cover began his journey in developing the TASER. By 1969, Cover had developed the idea of a high voltage low amperage pulsed weapon, that would knock a person down without injury. By 1970, Cover had built his first prototype electrical weapon which he called the "TASER," an acronym for the "Thomas A Swift’s Electrical Rifle," which was named after the Tom Swift fantasy stories of Cover’s childhood.

After 1970, Cover began to demonstrate the TASER to a number of interested groups who either really loved it, or really hated it. Many of the law enforcement organizations saw the TASER as just another gimmick in the same class as water cannons and rubber bullets, and non-lethal technology really did not interest them. The American air line industry, on the other hand, saw it as an option that they could use, rather than a conventional hand gun, when flying at 30,000 feet. Due to the fact that law enforcement in the United States really did not show any interest in the TASER, Cover began to concentrate his efforts towards the civilian markets, especially the airlines, who were beginning to place orders in large numbers.

Just as Cover’s efforts were starting to bear fruit, in 1975 the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), a congressional watchdog, began to investigate the TASER as a result of some political interference and pressure from outside influences. Due to the fact that the NRA and Law Enforcement organizations were up in arms with the fact that the TASER was being sold to civilians, the CPSC halted all sales of the TASER. In the spring of 1976 just as the CPSC was lifting its ban on the TASER, the Treasury Department, specifically the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), classified the TASER as a Title II firearms thus placing it under their jurisdiction even though years earlier they had stated to Cover that the TASER was not considered a firearm. This was a major blow to Cover, due to the fact that a level II designation meant that it placed the TASER in the same category as a machine gun, and thus made it extremely hard to sell to the civilian market which he was dependant upon for the financing of his invention. Not to be defeated, Cover through some redesigning of his original TASER, was able to have the ATF reclassify the TASER to a Title I conventional firearm and thus ease the restrictions on its sales to civilians.

Just as Cover thought his last fight with the federal government over the sales of his TASER was over, the Department of State declared the TASER proprietary technology, and put it on their Munitions Control Act list. What this meant to Cover was that before he could sell the TASER to any other country in the world, he would first require approval from the State Department, on a one time only basis, which would require months of paper work. Because of this decision, and the fact that the State Department felt that the TASER could be used as a weapon of torture overseas, sales of TASERs dropped to almost zero.

Due to the combined efforts of both the Treasury Board and the State Department, TASER sales dropped to less that 200 units a month. These sales were also now in jeopardy due to the fact that a number of TASERs had been used in robberies across the United States, and a number of individual states were now looking at passing crime bills to ban TASERs at both local and state levels. A number of high level governmental meetings took place in an attempt to prevent bills from banning the TASER, and as a result of these meetings, only two states, New York and Michigan, passed bills making the possession of TASERs illegal.

Finally in early 1976, the TASER was beginning to make positive headlines in printed media, due to the fact that some progressive police departments and correctional facilities had purchased and used the TASER on several occasions with very positive results. It was not until November 1980 that Cover got his biggest break when the Los Angeles Police Department purchased 700 of the old model TE-86 TASERs for general patrol duty use, after an extensive testing and evaluation period.

Since the LAPD purchase in 1976, the TASER has enjoyed a healthy growth curve within the law enforcement community. Today, hundreds of police departments in the United States use TASER technology. Even the State Department now allows exportation of TASER technology to preferred overseas countries, without the crippling delays they once imposed.

For more information on the history of the TASER, John Murray and Barnet Resnick, the CEO of Tasertron, have written an excellent book called, "A Guide To TASER Technology." This book is a must read for any instructor or department that is considering adopting a TASER pulse wave technology weapon for use within their department. Filled with information about the who, what, where, when, why, and how of TASER technology, it explains everything a person should know about the TASER in simple and plain language that is easily understood. Although this book primarily represents Barnet’s company and the products they represent, it is still an excellent reference guide, and answers a lot of questions about TASER technology.

 

How the TASER Works:

Simply put, when the TASER darts strike a subject, they send a current (50,000 volts and 5 watts) through a subject’s body between the two dart points. This current interferes and overrides the body’s neuromuscular system and thus voluntary muscle control is lost between the two dart points. As a result of this current being delivered into a subject, they will usually fall to a grounded position or freeze in place.

 

Medical Research And The Safety Of TASER Pulse Wave Technology:

To say that TASER pulse wave technology has been over studied by the medical community would be an understatement. Since the TASER was first invented, there have been concerns about applying its electrical current to human subjects and the direct medical consequences. Some of the medical consequences that were hypothesised to be caused by the TASER’s current included; causing heart attacks, long term seizure activity, and the potential to cause pace makers to fail. To date, all medical research that has been done on the TASER has found that when used on a normally healthy adult, the electrical current supplied by a TASER (50,000 volts 5 watts) is extremely safe to use, and will not effect cardiac muscle, effect pace makers, or cause long term seizures. It should also be noted that in July 1999, Cst John Macdonald, of the Ottawa-Carlton Police Department, supplied the University of Ottawa Heart Institute all of the U.S. medical research available on the TASER for their review. Dr. Hendry, Co-Director of the Pacemaker Clinic, stated, "I have reviewed the information you provided and I am reassured that this system appears to be safe for its use in controlling violent offenders." Dr Hendry further went onto say, "Certainly the device appears to be quite effective in controlling violent offenders and I suspect that the extremely limited potential for causing serious injury is far outweighed by the importance of controlling the offender safely and quickly." A copy of Dr. Hendry’s letter can be obtained by e-mailing me a request.

To date, there has never been a death directly related to the current used by the TASER. Although there have been some serious injuries that have been sustained as a result of the TASER being used, these were secondary injuries such as; blunt trauma injuries from a person falling after being shot with a TASER, 1 incident of a TASER dart puncturing an eye, and two incidents where the TASER current ignited subjects who were soaked in a flammable liquid. These types of injuries, although possible, are NOT very probable especially if an officer has received proper training as to when and when not to deploy a TASER.

The most common injury reported are the puncture wounds that are left by the TASER darts if they puncture a subject’s skin. Although easily removed by medical staff, the darts will leave a small bee sting type puncture wound. Associated with this puncture wound will be discoloration (redness) about the diameter of a pencil shaft. Like it or not, this redness is medically classified as a first degree burn caused from the electrical current of the TASER. If the TASER current is applied for more than 4-5 seconds, a small blister (second-degree burn) may appear at both probe points. This blistering is the body’s natural defence against the slight heat being generated by the TASER current. The redness and the blistering will usually disappear within a week without any complications or medical intervention needed.

I can not emphasise enough, that TASER pulse wave technology weapons that use 50,000 volts and 5 watts have been medically proven to be safe when used on normal healthy subjects. Although there are always risks when using any force option to control violent behaviour, the medical risks posed by the TASER are very minimal when compared to blunt trauma injuries caused by empty hand impact techniques and baton strikes, or even the trauma caused by an officer’s firearm.

 

The Companies:

There are presently two companies that offer TASER Pulse Wave technology weapons to law enforcement, Tasertron and TASER International.

 

Tasertron:

Located in Corona California, Tasertron a division of Electronic Medical Research Laboratories Inc. was formed in 1986 under the leadership of CEO Barnet Resnick. Since 1992 Tasertron has been the leader in the sales of TASER technology to law enforcement agencies around the world, and does not sell any of their products to the civilian market. It should be noted that up until the fall of 1998, Tasertron was the only company, under legal agreement, that was allowed to sell TASER Technology weapons to law enforcement agencies in North America. Since then, this legal agreement has expired, and other companies are now allowed to sell their TASER products to the North American law enforcement market.

 

Tasertron has a home page on the Internet that can be located at http://www.Tasertron.com. For more information on Tasertron you can contact them at:

Tasertron

1785 Pomona Rd, Suite C

Corona, CA 91720

Phone: 909-340-0896

Fax: 909-340-0899

e-mail: barlaw @ deltanet.com

The Canadian distributor for Tasertron is Highpoint Security Technologies Inc. and they can be contacted at 1-613-652-4623 or E-mailed at: hipoint @ sympatico.ca

 

TASER International:

Formed in 1993, TASER International, formerly known as AIR TASER, began business when brothers Rick and Tom Smith started the company. As a result of a family friend being shot with a .357 handgun, the Smith brothers began researching ways that civilians could effectively physically defend themselves against the increasing threat of violent crime in their country. As a result of their research, they became very interested in TASER technology, but learned that it was only available to the law enforcement community. Due to this fact, the Smith brothers sought out Jack Cover, the inventor of the TASER, and asked him to design a TASER weapon that could be used by anyone, and not just law enforcement. Although TASER International’s sales were primarily geared towards the civilian market, they have now re-focused their attention to the North American law enforcement community due to the expiration of Tasertron’s exclusive patent right, which opened the market to law enforcement and correctional institutions in both Canada and the United States.

TASER International has a home page on the Internet and can be located at http://www.airtaser.org. For more information on TASER International you can contact them at:

TASER International

7339 East Evans Rd, Suite 1

Scottsdale, AZ 85260

Phone: 1-800-978-2737 ext. 2006

fax: 1-480-991-0791

e-mail: sales@airtaser.org

The Canadian distributor for TASER International is M.D. Charlton and they can be contacted at 1-250-652-5266. Email: mdc@mail.island.net.

 

The Products:

Tasertron:

Tasertron currently offers three TASER products to the law enforcement community, the TE-86, TE-95, and the TE-93. Because the Tasertron cartridges use a rifle primer as their propellant, all of the Tasertron TASERs are classified by the United States Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, as a Title I firearms and therefore regulated as such.

TE-86/95

The TE-86/95 is Tasertron’s newest two shot model currently available to law enforcement agencies. The only difference between the 86 and the 95 is that the 95 now comes standard with a boresighted dual laser sight mounting plate for the optional dual laser sight, where the 86 can be factory retrofitted to accept the optional dual laser sight as an option. Since the TE-86/95 model has been around the longest of any of the TASER® Weapons discussed in this report, it is what I like to call the work horse for Tasertron. The TE86/95 has been the most widely used model being deployed by law enforcement agencies in North America, with over 50,000 deployments by police and correctional agencies to date.

TE-86/95 Strengths:

There is no doubt that the biggest benefit that the TE86/95 possesses is the ability to deploy two sets of darts if needed. If for some reason the first set of darts either miss a subject or fails to deploy properly, an officer can quickly deploy the second set of darts. The two dart system also allows an officer to deploy a single TASER on two separate subjects if required, which may be of some benefit when dealing with multiple opponents. In the fourteen incidents in our study, officers did not have to deploy the second set of darts. However, in speaking with the L.A. county Sheriffs, they stated that they have had several occasions where they have had to deploy the second set of darts, for the above noted reasons, and because of this fact they believe that the two shot TE-86/95 has a tactical advantage over a one shot model.

The second strength of the TE-86/95 is that it has proven itself "battle tested" by many police departments and correctional facilities around the world, a definite benefit, and its design has not really changed over time due to the fact that it has worked so well, another benefit. I was very happy with the performance of the TE-95’s in our six month field test.

A third strength of the TE-86/95 is the optional "probe pack" that can be plugged into the TASER unit to give the officer up to three feet of touch stun capability. This feature is widely being used by a large number of U.S. correctional agencies as a means of subject control and crowd control.

 

TE-86/95 Weaknesses:

Probably the number one weakness of the Te-86/95 is its size. Because of its design, the TE-86/95 is fairly bulky and therefore not easily carried. Although Tasertron does make a holster for the TE-86/95, the majority of departments that I spoke with who use this weapon do not use the holster because of its bulkiness. Most departments that I spoke with, like ours, keep the TE-86/95 secured in the trunk. When a member attends a call, where the TASER may be required, he or she must go to the trunk first to retrieve the TASER, and then keep it in hand until the call is over. It should be noted that Tasertron does offer a hard carrying case and vehicle gun locking system for both the TE 86/95. Due to the fact that our department now issues its members with cargo pants that have a side pocket, we have been using these pockets as a way to holster the TE-86/95 with some success.

A second weakness that has been identified with the TE-86/95 is the fact that when an officer deploys the darts, he or she must ensure that they keep their thumb on the trigger to ensure that the TASER current is passed to the subject being shot with a TASER. If an officer releases his thumb from the trigger after hearing the bang of the rifle primer, a natural instinct for most police officers, once the darts make contact with the subject there will be no current transfer. This has been identified as the number one reason for the 10-15% failure rate associated with the TE-86/95. It should be noted, that Tasertron has stated that they are presently designing a 7 second timing cycle for all of their TASER products, and hope to have it available as an option within the next few months. If this timer is successful in testing, and works as advertised, it will overcome the concern I have about officers not staying on the trigger.

A third weakness of the TE-86/95 is that members must remember to clean the firing bays after any deployment of the dart cartridges. Due to the fact that the Tasertron cartridges uses a rifle primer to propel its darts, there will be carbon residue from the primer left behind. Due to the fact that carbon is a good conductor of electricity, if it is not cleaned, it could cause a misfire. Even worse, there have been some reported cases where the carbon residue was so bad that it caused the electrical current to jump over to the second set of darts initiating an involuntary discharge. Although carbon residue is a concern, this can be solved as long as members ensure that the firing bays are cleaned after each use.

A fourth weakness that I have identified with the TE-86/95 model is that when these units are deployed in a point and shoot method, without using the laser sighting system, the darts will either fall left or right from centre of mass. The reason for this is the side by side design of the cartridges. In our study, officers deployed the right set of darts in the majority of cases. When these darts were plotted at the end of the study, it was amazing to see how many hit the upper left chest region and the lower left abdomen or leg area of a subject. This is only identified as a weakness due to the fact that depending upon how much of a body target a subject is presenting, if small, an officer might have to adjust his aim point with the TE-86/95 Model. Tasertron has now developed a dual laser sighting system that will also assist officers in aiming.

Cost of TE-86 without lasers: $329.00 US

Cost of TE-86 with Lasers: $529.00 US

Cost of TE-95 without Lasers: $389.00 US

Cost of TE-95 with Lasers: $589.00 US

The above noted prices include two NiCad batteries and one charger. If a department wanted to buy the TE-86/95 with alkaline batteries only, the prices are:

TE-86 without Lasers: $299.00 US

TE-86 with Lasers: $499.00 US

TE-95 without Lasers: $359.00 US

TE-95 with Lasers: $559.00

It should also be noted that Tasertron offers a quantity discount rate on both the TE-86 and the TE-95. Please contact Tasertron for more information.

 

TE-93:

In 1993, Tasertron came out with a new TASER product for law enforcement that they called the TE-93 also known as the "TASER Partner".

TE-93 Strengths:

The TE-93 is Tasertron’s single shot model. Designed to be held and fired like a firearm, the 93 is very comfortable in the hand and easily used. The TE-93 is much smaller than its big brother (TE-86/95) and therefore more easily carried.

I also found that the TE-93 was far easier to aim and was far more accurate than the 86/95 when fired with or without the laser sighting system. Because the 93 only uses a single cartridge, it is located in the centre of the unit and thus accuracy was increased when used in a point and shoot situation.

Another strength of the TE-93 is its ability to use it as a hand held stun gun. If an officer missed with the first set of darts, he could use the two top terminals as a touch stun weapon if attacked. The only time that these terminals would be activated would be if there was no cartridge loaded in the 93, or if loaded, and fired, the darts missed. In fact, this is probably another benefit to the 93 in that there is an immediate feedback, an electrical arcing between the two top mounted terminals, if both darts do not make adequate contact with a subject.

Another strength of the TE-93 is the fact that it comes with a safety wrist strap that will automatically disable the unit, if pulled, should a subject attempt to disarm the officer. Although there has only been one reported case where an officer was disarmed of his TASER, which was then used against him, this safety feature would have definitely prevented this from happening.

TE-93 Weaknesses:

The number one weakness of the 93 is the fact that when the darts are deployed, like the 86/95 models, the officer must keep his finger on the trigger to ensure that the TASER current is passed to the subject being shot with a TASER. In my opinion, this is even more of a concern with the 93 when compared to the 86/95, due to the fact that it is held, deployed, and fired more like a firearm. Due to the fact that most officers carry either revolvers or semi-auto firearms, they have been conditioned that when a trigger is deployed and a bang is heard, to release the trigger to cycle a second, third, or fourth round. Because of this conditioning, there is a very real and strong possibility that when the 93 is deployed, officers will not keep their finger on the trigger. In fact, I had the opportunity to watch video tape footage of an American SWAT team using a TE-93 during a training exercise. The team had just received it’s training on the 93, so it was fresh in their minds, and were now utilzing it in role play scenarios where they had to cycle from a deadly force option to the less lethal option of the TE-93. In this video tape footage, all the SWAT officers forgot to keep their finger on the 93 trigger after deploying the darts. The team leader was heard on several occasions to criticise his team members for not remembering their training to keep their fingers on the trigger. Although interesting to listen to, I believe that the team leader forgot that under high stress, an officer will resort to his dominate response, in this case firing the 93 as if it was their 9mm or their MP5 because that was their dominate response. Although training may be able to overcome this weakness, in a high stress situation I believe an officer will have some difficulty staying on the trigger. Again, the number one reason for failures of the TE-86/93/95 is due to the fact that officers are not staying on the trigger when the darts are deployed.

Another weakness not directly associated with the 93 is its holster system. Although much smaller than the 86/95, it is still somewhat bulky. The holstering system presently offered by Tasertron is less than adequate and is presently being re-designed by Tasertron. The 93 also comes with a belt clip attachment, but according to one department in the U.S., the clips break very easily and because of this fact are not recommended.

The last weakness that I can identify with the 93 is that it is a single shot model. Although it can be used as a touch stun device if the first set of darts miss or malfunction, to quickly load a second cartridge under high stress MAY be difficult to do.

Cost of TE-93 without Lasers: $195.00 US

Cost of TE-93 with Lasers: $395.00 US

The above noted prices include two NiCad batteries and one charger. If a department wants to buy a TE-93 using only an alkaline battery the prices are:

TE-93 without Lasers: $165.00 US

TE-93 with Lasers: $365.00 US

It should be noted that Tasertron does offer a quantity discount on the TE-93. For more information on this discount contact Tasertron.

 

TASER International:

TASER International presently offers only one unit, the AIR TASER model 34000, to law enforcement. Because the AIR TASER model 34000 cartridge uses compressed nitrogen as its propellant, and not a rifle primer, it is not considered a firearms by the United States Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and is therefore not regulated by them.

AIR TASER Model 34000 Strengths:

The first identifiable strength of the 34000 is its size, much smaller and lighter than Tasertron’s TE-86/95 and even the TASER Partner, it is easily held in the hand. Because of its size, it is also easily carried on a duty belt without taking up a lot of space, a definite advantage. TASER International has several leather holstering systems manufactured by one of the top holster makers in the U.S. Because of this fact, the 34000 can be easily carried by officers on their person during an entire tour of duty.

A second strength of the 34000 is that when the darts are deployed, the officer does not need to stay on the trigger to apply current to the subject being shot with a TASER. The 34000 has an automatic 30-second timing cycle that is activated once the darts have been deployed. This 30-second cycle can also be turned off and on at any time by the officer controlling the unit, depending upon a TASER subject’s level of resistance or compliance being exhibited. This feature addresses the number one problem with the Tasertron units of having to stay on the trigger when the darts are deployed.

Like the TASER Partner, the 34000 also has a touch stun capability if the darts either miss or malfunction for some reason, and the subjects attacks the officer.

Unlike the Tasertron cartridges that use a rifle primer to propel their darts, the AIR TASER uses compressed nitrogen and because of this fact, there is no carbon reside that is left behind when its darts are deployed. Because there is no carbon residue, there is no clean up associated with the AIR TASER.

I found the AIR TASER to be extremely accurate when used in a point and shoot situation without the laser sight attachment from distances of 5 feet, 10 feet, 15 feet, and 21 feet. When the 34000 was fired with its laser sight, the top dart consistently hit within a one-inch circle of the illuminated laser dot at the above noted distances.

US Police Cost of the AIR TASER model 34000 without laser:

US Police Cost of the AIR TASER model 34000 with laser: CALL 480-991-0791 FOR PRICING

 

Model 34000 Weaknesses:

The number one weakness of the AIR TASER is the fact that it only has a single shot capability. Although this was a major concern to me at first, I was able to reload the AIR TASER in less than a second and a half. This reloading procedure took Very little time to perfect and was easily learned. Because of this fact, the two shot capability, although a tactical advantage, has become less of a concern in my opinion. Also, because the AIR TASER can be easily carried on a duty belt, the fact remains that if issued to all patrol members in a police department, there will likely be more than one AIR TASER on scene at any one time. Thus if one member misses with their AIR TASER or it malfunctions, a second officer on scene could deploy theirs. The only time that this would not be tactically feasible, is in a deadly force situation, where the subject confronting the officer is armed with a knife or club and there are only two officers on scene. In this situation, one officer should have their firearm out and pointed at the subject, while the other may deploy a TASER if reasonable to do so. There is no doubt that a two shot TASER would be a tactical advantage in this situation , should the primary set of dart miss the subject or malfunction.

A second weakness that I found with the 34000 was in the safety switch, which arms the unit. Due to it being very narrow, it was difficult at first to place my thumb properly on the unit’s switch to activate it. Over a short period of time, and some motor skill practice, I was able to activate the safety without a problem. My only concern with the safety is that under high stress, fine complex motor skills deteriorate, and some officers may fail to place their thumb properly on the narrow switch. An easy fix, would be to widen the top of the safety switch to make its activation much easier.

A third weakness that I have identified with the 34000 is that due to the fact it is fairly new to the law enforcement market, it has not been used and abused and "battle tested" like the Tasertron products have. Although the company has shipped approximately 100,000 units, mostly to the civilian market, and has had a number of successful uses to date by law enforcement agencies, it still needs more time on the road with law enforcement agencies before it can truly be classified as "battle tested". It is my opinion, that the 34000 will have no problem meeting this mark.

 

 

Training:

Tasertron:

Tasertron offers several training courses for their products that range from a basic user program up to and including Instructor level training. Their Training programs follow current adult learning theories and are backed up by handouts and booklets. At the completion of all programs, officers are tested verbally, in writing and via hands on demonstration. All instructors for Tasertron are active law enforcement officers

 

TASER International:

TASER International also offers several training courses that range from a basic user program, up to and including Instructor level training. Their training programs follow current adult learning theories and are backed up by handouts and a C.D. which contains live video footage of the AIR TASER being tested, product information, press reviews, technical data, medial studies, as well as all lesson plans, tests, and certificates needed to run a basic user program. For the computer literate, this is definitely an advantage especially if you are an instructor that utilizes power point in your presentation style. At the completion of all programs, officers are tested verbally, in writing and via hands on demonstration. Due to the fact that TASER International is so new to the law enforcement market, they are still in the learning curve and changing their lesson plans to meet law enforcement training standards and needs. Although their most experienced trainers are company employees who have no law enforcement background, they are quickly bringing on a number of law enforcement officers and military experts to be trained as instructor trainers.

 

Opinion:

Both Tasertron and TASER International offer excellent training programs that are court defensible. Presently, AIR TASER has been offering Instructor programs for free and as a result, Tasertron has offered to do the same here in Canada. Currently both companies also offer a free 60-90 days Testing and Evaluation period on their TASER products.

 

Laser Sighting System:

Tasertron:

Tasertron offers a patented dual laser sight for both their TE-95 and TE-93 systems. When utilized, the laser offers an officer an excellent force presence, in which voluntary compliance can often be exhibited by a subject when illuminated with just the laser sights. In our study, this happened in five of the fourteen cases in which we deployed the TASER.

Because Tasertron uses a dual laser sighting system, it will give an officer a better judgement of distance and angulation of the darts between himself and the subject to be shot with a TASER. In my testing of this laser sighting system, although not pin point accurate, the Tasertron darts will consistently hit within a 3-4 inch circle of the illuminated laser dots.

I have two concerns with Tasertron’s laser sighting system. My first concern is with the TE-95 model. The laser system in this model is activated by a small pressure switch. In our testing and training of the 95, there were several occasions where I observed members, who were pressing this switch with their bottom fingers, have an involuntary muscle response which also caused their trigger thumb to press down simultaneously. This is a major concern if the officer’s thumb is on the trigger while the laser pressure switch is being activated. This involuntary response of the thumb could, in my opinion, cause an involuntary discharge of a dart cartridge. It should be noted, that such an occurrence has not taken place to date. Because of this danger, I recommend that members do not attempt to illuminate the laser sights with the same hand that they are going to activate the trigger with. It should be noted that this is not a concern in the TE-93 laser sighting system due to its design. I have also been advised by Tasertron that they have developed an on/off switch for the TE-93 laser sighting system. I have not seen or tested this new development, but it would definitely be an improvement over the 93’s pressure switch.

The second concern that I have with the Tasertron’s laser sights, is that to keep them activated, the officer must keep constant pressure on its activation switch. Again this may prove to be a liability if a members thumb is anywhere near the trigger. For officers with smaller hands, to activate the laser pressure switch and the trigger with one hand, all at the same time, may be difficult to do. As a result of this concern, Tasertron recommends that the pressure switch be placed on the center bottom of the handle about ½ to 2/3 of the way from the end of the handle. This placement of the switch will allow the laser sights to remain on, as long as the officer is holding the gun with sufficient force to aim and fire the weapon. Again this is not a concern with the model 93 because of its design.

The cost for the Tasertron Dual laser sighting system for both the TE-93/95 is $200.00 American.

 

TASER International:

TASER International also has a laser sighting system for its model 34000. Unlike the Tasertron’s dual laser sights, AIR TASER uses a single red laser dot. Although the 34000 only uses one laser dot, in my opinion it still has the same force presence as the dual laser system. It was my experience that the 34000 laser sight was extremely accurate. When the darts were fired, the top dart consistently hit within a one-inch circle every single time. The one disadvantage of the one dot laser sight in the 34000, was that an officer can not judge distance or bottom dart angulation as accurately as the dual laser system offered by Tasertron.

Another feature that I liked with the 34000 laser sight system, was that it was activated via a separate off and on switch that was very easy to use no matter what an officer’s hand size. To me this is an advantage over the pressure switch for obvious reasons.

The cost for the AIR TASER Model 34000 is $99.95 American.

 

Opinion:

When it comes to the single verses dual laser sighting system, it comes down to user preference. When I have used the Tasertron’s dual system, the most important laser point is the top one, due to the fact that it ensures where the top dart is going to fly. Under high stress, I still believe that officers will not be able to see the laser dots, and will fall back instinctually to a point and shoot method of deployment even if the laser sight(s) are active and on target. The biggest benefit to the laser sight, is the force presence it possesses and its ability to obtain voluntary compliance, where appropriate and reasonable to do so, by just illuminating a subject with a red laser dot(s), and giving a verbal warning that they are about to get hit with 50,000 volts of electricity if they do not comply voluntarily. To illustrate this fact, recently a member of our department utilized the dual laser sights on a subject in a high-risk vehicle stop. Although the subject was approximately 35 feet away when he was ordered from his vehicle (well out of range of the TE-95 that we were using), the TASER officer placed the top laser sight from his unit on the chest of the subject. When this was observed by the agitated and aggressive subject, he immediately became compliant and followed all orders given by police without hesitation.

 

Durability:

 

Tasertron:

All of the Tasertron products are extremely durable and virtually police proof. I conducted a drop test with all three of Tasertron’s products from distances of three feet, five feet and six feet. At each distance the TE-86/93/95 was dropped three times each and at different angles. At all distances the units functioned properly after being dropped.

The second drop test that I conducted was on the Tasertron cartridges. When dropped onto a hard surface from three feet, five feet and six feet, the front covers on the cartridges, in most cases, broke open very easily thus making them unusable.

 

TASER International:

The AIR TASER model 34000 is also extremely durable and in my opinion police proof as well. As with the Tasertron units, I conducted a drop test with the 34000 from three feet, five feet and six feet. At each distance the AIR TASER was dropped three times each, and at different angles. At all distances, the unit functioned properly after being dropped.

The second drop test that I conducted was on the AIR TASER cartridges. When dropped onto a hard surface from three feet, five feet, and six feet, all the cartridges remained intact and fired correctly.

Opinion:

Both Tasertron and TASER International offer units that are very rugged and durable which is extremely important in the police world. The only concern that I have is with the durability of the Tasertron cartridges due to the fact that the front cover plates would often break off, when dropped, leaving the cartridge unusable, this did not happen with the AIR TASER cartridges. It should be noted that both companies will replace any cartridges that are damaged in this way, or fail to fire.

 

Wind Test:

Tasertron:

I was able to conduct wind deviation tests utilzing a TE-93. At a 40-50mph cross wind, the darts deviated about one inch from point of aim when shot from a distance of fifteen feet.

TASER International:

I was able to conduct wind deviation tests utilzing the AIR TASER Model 34000 at the following estimated cross wind speeds when shot from a distance of fifteen feet:

 

Opinion:

Because TASER International uses a dart that is longer than the Tasertron dart, there has been some concern voiced about its accuracy in windy conditions voiced by TASERTRON. I also had these concerns initially due to the fact that I police a city that can be very windy. Based upon the above noted wind tests, that I took part in, it is my opinion that when used in windy conditions, where the wind speed is under 40mph, hitting a human size target is not a problem with the TE-86/93/95 OR the AIR TASER model 34000 from a distance of fifteen feet. Even at higher wind speeds of 60-80mph, if aimed at centre of mass, the darts should still be able to make contact with the body based upon the above noted calculations. It should also be noted that these wind tests were not scientific but rather empirical in nature. We did not use a professional wind tunnel, but rather a twin engine Cessna and the wind that was created by its propeller backwash. Although not as scientific as using a wind tunnel, it did create the above noted estimated crosswind speeds. It should also be noted that when I fired both the TE-93 and The AIR TASER 34000, I utilized their specific laser sighting systems. On each deployment of the darts, I ensured that the top lasers points were ACURATELY placed on a predetermined point on the target, and the TASERs were only fired after I had proper target acquisition with the laser sights. At no time did I compensate for wind speed increase during any of this testing.

When I inquired to TASER International as to why the AIR TASER dart length was extended longer than the original TASERTRON design, they responded that their R&D testing found that the longer dart design was more accurate and more stable in-flight. I was shown high-speed video footage of both the TASERTRON dart and the AIR TASER dart in flight which, along with the higher accuracy of the AIR TASER in my firings, supported the conclusion that the longer dart design appears to be more stable.

 

 

Electrical Arc Penetration:

Tasertron:

I was able to conduct several Arc tests to see how far the Tasertron TE-95 was able to arc from dart to dart. The length of the maximum spark is a key in determining the maximum clothing penetration of each system. TASER technology can penetrate through clothing by creating an electrical arc, somewhat like a small lightning bolt, which jumps from the tip of the dart through the microscopic air pores in clothing, and to the skin of the subject. The longer the arc that can be created from the dart tip to dart tip, the more clothing the unit can penetrate. To conduct this test, I taped one dart onto a wooden surface and then placed the second dart immediately in front of it so that the barbs were pointing at each other. I would then separate the darts at ¼ inch increments and activate the power. With both of the TE-95 Units that I was using, I was able to separate the darts up to the point of 1.25 inches with an electrical arc still appearing. Any further separation would not result in an arc, meaning the circuit was not complete

TASER International:

I was able to conduct the same arc test using the AIR TASER model 34000 as I did with the Tasertron TE-95. Utilzing the same test conditions and separation increments, I was able to separate the darts of the 34000 up to the point of 2.25 inches with an electrical arc still appearing. Any further separation would not result in an arc, meaning the circuit was not complete.

 

Opinion:

It would appear from this arc test, that the AIR TASER has a better clothing penetration distance when compared to the TASER TE-86/93/95. Both companies do state that their products current will pass through up to two inches of clothing. This may be an important issue in those parts of Canada where people may wear thick and heavy clothing during the cold winter months, and where a TASER may have to be deployed outside in the elements.

 

Cartridges:

Tasertron:

The Tasertron cartridges are propelled using a small rifle primer. When fired, the darts travel approximately 200 feet per second. The Tasertron’s cartridge top dart is designed to travel a straight line, while the bottom dart has been placed in a downward angle of twelve degrees. Separation distances of the Tasertron darts are:

Maximum range of the Tasertron cartridges is 15 feet from the end of the gun. Cost per cartridge is $16.42 American. It should also be noted that Tasertron cartridges have a shelf life of 2 years.

One of the weaknesses identified with the Tasertron cartridge is the fact that it can be loaded upside down and jammed in the TASER unit being used making it inoperable. The other weakness, as discussed earlier, is the fact that they are prone to breakage if dropped onto a hard surface.

The other weakness identified with the Tasertron Cartridge is the fact that they are not each stamped or marked with an expiration date. Although the box that they come in are, if mixed and matched, there may be a danger of placing expired cartridges with good ones.

 

TASER International:

The AIR TASER Model 34000 cartridges are propelled via compressed nitrogen. When fired, the AIR TASER darts travel at approximately 175 feet per second. The AIR TASER has an eight-degree angle spread designed into its cartridge. Due to this fact, the AIR TASER cartridge has been designed to angle into the 34000 in such a manner that the top dart will always fly straight and the bottom dart will angle down. Separation distances of the AIR TASER cartridges are:

TASER International now offers a 21-foot cartridge to law enforcement agencies at cost of $17.85 American each. TASER International also offers its 15-foot cartridge at a price of $15.97 American each. AIR TASER cartridges have a 5 year shelf life.

Unlike the Tasertron cartridge, the AIR TASER cartridge can not be loaded up side down, and therefore it is impossible for it to become jammed in its gun. As stated earlier, the AIR TASER cartridges are extremely durable.

Because the AIR TASER cartridge uses compressed nitrogen as its propellant, I also conducted a freeze test to see if cold conditions would effect the pressure of the propellant in a negative way. After leaving the cartridge it in a deep freezer overnight, I immediately fired it the next morning without incident.

It should also be noted that the AIR TASER cartridges are individually marked with an expiration date, which reduces the risks of deploying an expired cartridge on the street.

The graphic below illustrates the probe patterns used in the TASERTRON vs. the AIR TASER products.

COMPARISON OF PROJECTILE BALLISTICS

Opinion:

Dart separation is extremely important when it comes to the knock down factor of a TASER. The wider the separation, the better the TASER effect. However, too much spread can impair accuracy at longer ranges.

When I spoke with Jack Cover, the inventor of TASER Pulse Wave technology, he stated that the minimum dart spread needed for best results is six inches. Based upon the fact that the wider the dart spread the better the takedown, Tasertron’s 12 degree separation would have a better TASER effect over a larger body surface especially within the 2.5-12 foot range where most TASER applications take place. Having said this however, the AIR TASER cartridge is still above the 6-inch minimum separation, at three feet, which is needed for a takedown. AIR TASER has also stated that they choose the 8 degree angle due to the fact that they felt that it was better to trade a little spread at close range to gain usability and accuracy at extended ranges, a valid argument. ( see attached dart spread sheet)

It should be acknowledged that the above noted separation distances for both the Tasertron TASER and the TASER International AIR TASER are best case scenarios based upon averages. It has been my experience that there may be a slight deviation in dart spread from cartridge to cartridge in both products.

The biggest advantage that the AIR TASER cartridge has over its competitor is the fact that it has 21 feet of range. Although most TASER applications take place within the 5-12 foot range, it is always tactically nice to be able to deploy a force option at greater distances if possible. The other advantage to the 21 foot cartridge is the fact that if deployed at 12 feet, an officer still has 9 feet of wire in the cartridge which can be easily let out should the subject shot with the TASER attempt to walk away. This would prevent the wires from stretching and breaking, which is a common occurrence in this type of incident.

The last concern that I have to voice, is about the issue of dart wobble. It has been stated in some literature that the AIR TASER’s longer and lighter dart had a wobble effect during flight, which effected its accuracy. It should be noted that the darts presently being used by AIR TASER are longer than those used by Tasertron but are in fact slightly heavier. I have personally viewed a professional slow speed video of the AIR TASER dart that is now being presently used, and in my opinion, dart wobble was almost non existent during flight. Based upon this fact, and the results of my accuracy testing with the AIR TASER, the dart wobble is a non-issue. In fact, I was also shown a high speed video of the TASERTRON dart as well, and the longer AIR TASER dart appears to be the more stable design.

 

Power Supply:

Tasertron:

Tasertron recommends that all of its TASER units only be operated with a specifically recommended ni-cad battery. For best results, it is recommended that ni-cad batteries be replaced every shift with a freshly charged one. On a fully charged Ni-cad, the Tasertron units will operate for about 70-140 seconds and only half of this should be considered reliable power. In other words, due to the fact that Tasertron recommends a 5-10 second TASER burst be utilized when deployed, members are only guaranteed to have at maximum 7-10 five-second usage’s per battery before it needs to be changed or recharged. One of the biggest disadvantages with a nicad is the inability to test how much power it has left and as such, there is no device on today’s market that can reliably tell how much charge remains in a used ni-cad battery. This is why it is so important that departments that use ni-cad batteries ensure that they have a regimented battery exchange program in effect, to ensure that freshly charged ni-cads are always being deployed in Tasertron units. This has been one of the biggest problems in many of the agencies that I have spoken with. It is also recommended that old ni-cads be rotated out every six months with new ones. I should advised readers that our department has had no problems with ensuring the proper rotation of recharged ni-cad batteries in our Tasertron units, each and every shift change.

TASER International:

The AIR TASER model 34000 only uses the alkaline 9v Eveready Energizer® battery as its power source. In testing, they found that it performed well within the required parameters needed to operate TASER pulse wave technology. Due to the fact that the AIR TASER uses an alkaline battery and not a ni-cad, the 34000 has a power indicator light on the handle, that when blinking, tells the operator that the battery has enough power for at least 2-3 thirty second applications.

 

Opinion:

There is no doubt that the ni-cad battery performs better when it comes to TASER pulse wave technology, due to its ability to dump power out quickly. Having said this however, even Tasertron is now recommending the Eveready Energizer as an alternate power source for their units. On the flip side, AIR TASER acknowledges that fact that if a Ni-cad was used in their product, it would perform marginally better as well.

When it comes to making a decision as to whether to use a ni-cad or the Energizer alkaline battery, I would suggest the Ni-cad for its better performance in TASER weapons. Having said this however, if you are not going to be regimented enough to ensure that ni-cads are always fully charged, alkaline Energizer batteries are the way to go in my opinion. It should also be noted that I have been shot with both a ni-cad Tasertron product and an Eveready Energizer alkaline AIR TASER, and the effects that I experienced were identical with both products.

The other factor that needs to be considered here in Canada, is the effect that cold weather has on alkaline batteries and to a lesser extent the ni-cad. In colder weather, the performance of alkaline batteries decreases very quickly. This is why in cold weather AIR TASER recommends the use of a lithium or NiCad battery as its power source, due to the fact that they performs very well in extremely cold conditions. It should also be noted that if a lithium or NiCad battery is used in the Air TASER, the battery indicator light WILL NOT be accurate and should not be depended upon.

 

Warranty:

Tasertron:

Tasertron has a five-year full warranty, parts and labour, on all their TASER units. As well, the Canadian distributor, Highpoint Technologies, has added another 5 years onto the warranty of all Tasertron products which increases the total warranty coverage to 10 years in Canada.

TASER International:

TASER International has a lifetime warranty on their AIR TASER model 34000. If for any reason the 34000 does not function or breaks for any reason, TASER International will replace it for a cost of $25.00 American no questions asked.

 

Opinion:

Both companies offer good warranties on their products. It should be noted that the Tasertron’s 5-year warranty is fairly new to the market place.

 

Liability Insurance:

Tasertron:

Tasertron has a full 5 million-dollar liability insurance on all their products

 

TASER International:

TASER International also has 5 million-dollar liability insurance on all their products

 

Opinion:

Both companies have adequate liability insurance, and both stated that they would assist in any court challenge to their product.

Advertising:

Tasertron:

In some of the advertising literature put out by Tasertron they make some statements that I believe need to be clarified:

  1. Tasertron states that their TASER is non-lethal. To date, their has never been a reported death that has been directly attributed to the TASER current. Having said this however, I believe that there is always a potential that death may occur anytime force is used to control a person and to advertise a product as non-lethal, when it may in fact cause a death at a later time, may open a department and its trainer to liability issues. I would recommend that departments in Canada adopt the phrase "Less Lethal." This is a recognised term in Canada and also allows for articulation at an inquest should a death occur. It should be noted, that Tasertron’s statement on non-lethality was directed by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commision, a federal agency whose legal council had directly authorized Tasertron to state, "The medical director of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has stated that electrical output of the TASER when used as directed on a normally healthy adult is non-lethal".
  2.  

  3. Tasertron also states in some of their literature that their products will "immediately and totally incapacitate the subject." Although used as a sales pitch, it is far from true. There were a number of agencies that I spoke with, where a Tasertron TASER was used on a subject with very little effect, or no effect at all. I have personally been shot with their product, which did not immediately and totally incapacitate me. There is a scale of reactions from subjects shot with a TASER that goes from no reaction at all at one extreme, to total incapacitation at the other. On average it takes between 3-5 seconds for most subjects to be controlled using current TASER technology. Recently in the U.S., a well known pepper spray manufacturer had to pay a large financial award to a plaintiff who’s husband had been killed in the line of duty after he used a pepper spray product that was advertised to be immediately effective in controlling a subject. Because the pepper spray product did not work as advertised, the wife of the slain police officer sued not only the manufacturer of the pepper spray product, but also his police department who issued the product believing that it would work as advertised. If trainers in this country make the same mistake with the TASER and state that it "immediately and totally incapacitates a subject," they are opening themselves and their departments to a huge liability issue.

 

TASER International:

Like their competition, TASER International also makes certain claims about their products that need to be clarified:

  1. Like Tasertron, some of the literature distributed by TASER International states that their products are both non-lethal and also immediately effective. The above noted concerns and comments that I stated with Tasertron on this issue, hold true for this company as well.
  2. TASER International has also stated that "unconsciousness" is one of the responses that officers should expect from a subject who has been shot with a TASER. In all of the research that I have done to date, unconsciousness has NEVER been a reported effect. In talking with one TASER International employee about this claim, he stated that he had personally experienced a time loss where he could not remember certain details after being shot with an Air TASER, that he attributed to unconsciousness. I believe that the time loss was as a result of survival stress. As reported by such authorities as Bruce Siddle, during a high stress event (such as being shot with a TASER) individuals will experience critical stress amnesia, where time either stops, slows down, or even speeds up, and specific events about a stressful incident may not be immediately remembered. Although totally conscious during this type of event, it is very common that people believe that they were unconscious. In my opinion this is what happened to this TASER International employee.

 

Opinion:

Since man began to sell products to others, they have always looked for ways to advertise their product in such a way as to catch the consumer’s eye. When it comes to selling products to law enforcement agencies, manufactures and distributors may not come out a tell a blatant lie about their product, but often they bend the truth just enough so that it catches the eye of a potential buyer (department), but leaves an out so as not be caught in a lie later on. Phil Messina, a well-known law enforcement trainer in the U.S., calls this sales pitch the Pinocchio’s Nose Sales System. I am not saying that Tasertron or TASER International are lying about their products, but I do believe that they need to clean up and clarify some of their claims about what their products can and can’t do. I have spoken to both companies about the above noted concerns, and both have stated that they will be making changes immediately.

 

New Technology:

Tasertron:

Tasertron has been in the process of developing two new systems, the "TASER Sentinel" and the "TASER Area Denial Device"

TASER Sentinel:

The purpose of the TASER Sentinel is to protect buildings such as police departments, embassies, airports, TV and radio stations and other such buildings during times of major demonstrations or rioting, without having to resort to the use of lethal force. Remotely controlled and using a gun-sighted camera, it can be used against subjects who are considered to be a threat. Designed to have multi-shot capability, the Sentinel is expected to have an effective range of approx. 30 feet. For more information on the Sentinel please contact Tasertron.

TASER Area Denial Device (T.A.D.D.):

Designed for the military as a less lethal alternative to the anti personnel landmine, TADD would be used to provide force protection, facility protection and perimeter control. Designed to be multi-shot capable and field reloadable, it also comes with an alarm system that is activated upon enemy contact. For more information on T.A.D.D. please contact Tasertron

TASER International:

For the past year, TASER International has focused it entire planning and research into the development of what they call the "ADVANCED TASER M26." Primarily designed for law enforcement agencies, it will also have some applications for the military as well, and will not be sold to the civilian market.

The ADVANCED TASER:

Due to the fact that current TASER technology is not 100% effective ( current studies show between an 85-93% success rate), and seems to fail on subject who are goal oriented, TASER® Weapon International began to experiment with increasing voltage and wattage in their TASER product in an attempt to obtain as close to a 100% knockdown success rate as possible. Working with Dr Stratbucker, who is considered by many TASER experts to be the foremost medical expert on the biological and medical effects of TASER pulse wave technology, TASER® Weapon International learned that they could greatly increase the wattage of their units without causing serious medical effects to the human body. As a result of this research, the idea for the Advanced TASER was born.

Based upon a number of focus groups, made up of law enforcement professionals, TASER International decided to redesign the Advanced TASER to resemble a semi-automatic handgun. the reason for this dramatic change was due to the focus group’s input that if the Advanced TASER looked, felt, and functioned more like a handgun, officers would not have to learn new motor skills to operate it.

Another feature that has been built into the Advanced TASER, is what they call the "Data Port System". This data port is located on the back of the weapon and can be plugged into a computer, with the appropriate software, and then downloaded to give an exact readout of how often the weapon had been used and the time duration of each and every activation. As can be appreciated, this feature could be used to protect officers from unfounded excessive force complaints made by subjects who stated that the officer used the advanced TASER as a torture device. This data port can also be used to remotely fire the Advanced TASER if attached to a police robot, tactical mirror pole, or even a camera.

I have both seen and held the prototype of the Advanced TASER and have three concerns:

  1. Because the Advanced TASER does look like a semi-automatic handgun, a good defence lawyer may be able to convince a judge or jury, that his client reasonably believed in his mind that he was going to be shot with an actual lethal firearm ( when not justified by the police to do so), and as such, decided to escalate his use of force to protect himself. This fact, if argued successfully, which I believe it can, could have dire consequences. In response to this concern, the company has taken steps to deal with this issue by supplying each unit with bright yellow stickers that are placed onto the sides of the gun. As well, the front blast doors of the air cartridge have a bright yellow stripping design .
  1. Due to the fact that the Advanced TASER is the same size as an actual semi-automatic handgun, storage and holstering becomes a problem on a duty belt. Public perception here in Canada would frown upon a police officer who is carrying what appears to be two handguns, one on each hip, in a wild west holster format on regular patrol. This public perception is an extremely important issue that TASER International understands they must overcome. From a speciality squad perspective, such as an Emergency Response Team or Riot Control Team, this should not be an issue.
  1. Due to the fact that the Advanced TASER uses higher voltage and wattage, there needs to be more medical studies done on what its bio-medical effect will be. All research to date is based upon 50,000 volts and 5 watts. It appears that the Advanced TASER will be around 65,000 volts and 26 watts. Although Dr. Stratbucker, the Underwriters Laboratory (UL), and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) have published studies that have found that these increase are well within the electrical output safety margin needed to prevent ventricular fibrillation, in my opinion more research needs to be done. TASER International, although very confident that the ADVANCEDE TASER is extremely safe, is now in the process of working with electrical and medical experts both here in Canada and the United States to obtain this medical data. This new research is expected to be completed by the end of October 1999.

It should be noted that I have also been shot with the Advanced TASER. I have been shot with conventional TASER technology weapons ( 50,000 volts and 5 watts) four times. With conventional TASER’s, I have been able to focus through its effects to the point where I was able to go after the individual operating the TASER unit. When I was hit with the Advanced TASER, the effects were immediate and I was totally incapacitated and unable to consciously take any kind of physical action other than to fall to the ground. After the Advanced TASER was turned off, I was mentally stunned for about three seconds, at which time I was able to stand up and function properly without ill effect. I have always stated that the only way to guarantee a knock down of a human being, is to shoot them in the central nervous system with a bullet. In my opinion, the Advanced TASER comes extremely close to doing the same thing, but from a less lethal perspective. If the Canadian and American electrical and medical research pans out, as I suspect it will, police departments should be taking a serious look at this new technology without hesitation.

 

Conclusion:

It has become very clear to me, and to others in the law enforcement community, that both Tasertron and TASER International instead of becoming healthy competitors, have become bitter adversaries. Why has this happened? Competition, plain and simple. Up until the fall of 1998, Tasertron had the exclusive rights when it came to selling TASER technology to the law enforcement community in North America. When this advantage expired, and TASER® Weapon International began to move into the North American market place, things began to heat up dramatically between the two companies. Both Tasertron and TASER® Weapon International are making claims about inaccuracies in their competitor’s product and advertising which, in my opinion, is only muddying the waters. Competition is healthy in a free and democratic society, it causes competing companies to constantly evaluate their product so as to stay competitive in the market place. The direct benefits to us as the consumer, is a superior product offered at a reasonable price. If inaccuracies in product data and false advertising claims are being made, I believe that most law enforcement professionals that I know, will pick up on them very quickly especially in this topic area in which most, like myself, are becoming Very knowledgeable in. Although neither company will state this publicly, the TASER TE-86/93/95 and the AIR TASER model 34000 are designed to do the same thing, each one is a TASER pulse wave technology weapon that delivers 50,000 volts and 5 watts of current. What differs in both companies, is the proprietary technology used in the design of their specific weapon systems. Each product has its own strengths and weakness that I have already presented to you in this report. I also believe that both companies represent products that have a place in law enforcement and corrections. Really, the comparison between the Tasertron TASER and the TASER® Weapon International AIR TASER Model 34000 is no different than comparing a Glock 9mm to a Smith and Wesson 9mm. Both weapons will fire a bullet that is designed to make a hole in a human target. The design of the two guns may be different, but the end result is the same.

The purpose of this report was to bring to light FACTUAL information on TASER technology that is available to us in the Canadian law enforcement and correctional community. I hope that this informational paper will clarify any questions that you may have about TASER pulse wave technology products currently available.

 

If the reader has any questions about any of the information in this report, please contact me at:

Sgt Darren Laur

Victoria Police Department

850 Caledonia Ave.

Victoria, BC

Canada

1-250-995-7654 Voice mail #9231 e-mail: eightball@pacificcoast.net

 

SUMMARY COMPARISON CHART

FEATURE

TASERTRON

TE-86/95

TASERTRON

TE/93

AIR TASER

Model 34000

Weight 22 ounces 19 ounces 9 ounces
Voltage 50,000 volts 50,000 volts 50,000 volts
Wattage 5 watts 5 watts 5 watts
Belt Deployable Yes but very bulky Yes, bulky & being redesigned Yes, compact
Triggering Manual - must hold trigger down. Manual - must hold trigger down. Automatic 30 seconds (user interruptible)
# of Cartridges 2 1 1
Time Required to load new cartridge( no stress) 3-3.5 seconds

* Risk of Jamming

1.5- 2 seconds

* Risk of Jamming

1-1.5 seconds

* Cannot Jam Weapon

Maximum Range 15 ft. 15 ft. 21 ft.
Minimum Range for 6 inch separation 2.5 feet 2.5 feet 3 feet
Maintenance Clean after each firing Clean after each firing None.
Battery Indicator No No Yes (only when using alkaline 9V).
Battery Source Rec. NiCad

Optional: Alkaline

Rec: NiCad

Optional: Alkaline

Rec: Alkaline

Optional: NiCad

Price $329 - $389 US NiCad

$299-$359 US Alkaline

$195 US NiCad

$165 US Alkaline

Laser Dual Dual Single
Accuracy with laser 3-4 inches 2-3 inches Within 1 inch
Laser Cost $200 $200
Laser Switch Pressure switch Pressure switch. On / Off switch
Accuracy without laser, instinctive point and shoot Tends to fire off-center Very Good Extremely Good
Touch Stun Backup No Yes Yes
Probe Pack Touch Stun Yes, 3 feet Yes, 1 foot no
Maximum Arcing Distance 1.25" 1.25" 2.25"

FEATURE

TASERTRON

TE-86/95

TASERTRON

TE/93

AIR TASER

Model 34000

Survives 6 Foot Drop Yes Yes Yes
Cartridge Survives 6 Foot Drop No

$16.42 U.S. each

No

$16.42 U.S. Each

Yes

15foot $15.97

21foot $17.85

Angle Between Darts 12 degrees 12 degrees 8 degrees
Practice Cartridges Yes, $12.50 US each Yes, 12.50 US each No
Safety Pull Strap No Yes No
Cartridge Tracking and Serialization No,

2yr. Shelf Life

No,

2yr. Shelf Life

Yes,

5yr. Shelf Life

Warranty 5 Years US

Canada 10yrs

5 Years US

Canada 10yrs

Lifetime with $25 fee

Both US and Canada

Training Excellent Excellent Excellent
Liability 5 Million 5 Million 5 Million

 

It should be noted, that the above chart only represents products that were PRESENTLY available to the law enforcement and correctional communities at the time of this report. Both companies have several products that are currently under development and testing, and MAY be available at a later date. Some of these new products include:

Tasertron:

 

TASER® Weapon International:

 

 

SPREAD COMPARISON RAW DATA

 

Distance (in feet)

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

AIR TASER

2.7

4.3

6.0

7.7

9.4

11.0

12.7

14.4

16.0

17.7

19.4

21.0

22.7

24.4

26.1

27.7

29.4

31.1

32.7

34.4

36.1

TASERTRON

3.0

5.5

8.0

10.5

13.0

15.5

18.0

20.5

23.0

25.4

27.9

30.4

32.9

35.4

37.9

X

X

X

X

X

X

Distance measured in feet, spread is measured in inches.

This chart was generated using Microsoft Excel to calculate the spread for each unit. The calculations used were:

AIR TASER®: Sin(8 degrees) * distance in inches + 1 inch.

The formula above calculates the expected spread for an eight degree separation at each distance, and adds one inch (because the darts from an AIR TASER are spread 1 inch apart at the point they exit the cartridge).

TASERTRON®: Sin(12 degrees) * distance in inches + 0.5 inch

The formula above calculates the expected spread for a twelve degree separation at each distance, and adds ½ inch (because the darts from a TASERTRON cartridge are spread 0.5" apart at the point they exit the cartridge).

If the recommended minimum spread is 6 inches, the minimum recommended distance for the AIR TASER is 3 feet vs. 2.2 feet for the TASERTRON.

However, the maximum effective distance is significantly greater with the 8 degree spread such that an 8 degree spread creates a tighter grouping at 21 feet than a 12 degree spread at only 15 feet.

CONCLUSION: The 8 degree spread results in a difference of 10 inches at minimum recommended range, but increases the maximum effective range by over 6 feet.

 

APPENDIX A: Victoria Police Six Month TASER® Weapon Study Report

Sir:

The following document contains the results of our six month pilot project on the use of the TASER. The study started on the 15th of December 1998, and concluded on the 15th of June 1999. During these six months, there were a total 14 incidents where the TASER was deployed:

 

  1. Suicidal Male Case # 98-32913

Police were dispatched to attend a call of a suicidal male who had overdosed on some kind of unknown drug. Upon police arrival, a male suspect was located sitting in his bed holding a large kitchen knife to his chest. Police attempted to have the male suspect drop the knife voluntarily, without success. In fact, the suspect stated that he would not drop the knife, and that police would have to "shoot him". As police continued to negotiate with this male, he proceeded to force the knife he was folding into his chest. The TASER was deployed, causing the subject to immediately drop the knife and allowing police to take him safely into custody. It should be noted that in this case, the emergency room doctor stated that police had probably saved this suspect’s life with the use of the Taser.

  1. Violent Male (Feeney Warrant) Case # 98-33410

Police attended an address to execute a Feeney Warrant on a violent male who was wanted on several outstanding warrants. Upon entry into the suspect’s residence, police were confronted by this violent male who was extremely non-compliant with police verbal commands to surrender voluntarily. It should be noted that there were several officers in the residence, two of which had their firearms pointed at this male. Due to the suspect’s non-compliance with police verbal warnings, the TASER® Weapon was brought forward and the suspect was illuminated with the TASER’s laser sights. When the suspect learned that the two red dots on his body was were he was going to be hit with 50,000 volts of electricity if he did not voluntarily surrender, he immediately turned around and placed his hands behind his back without further incident. In this case, officers stated that the suspect did not care about the guns that were pointed at him, but when he realized that the TASER® Weapon was going to be used, compliance was immediate. Although the TASER® Weapon was not deployed using the darts, this case clearly shows how effective the TASER® Weapon can be from a "force presence" to obtain voluntary compliance.

  1. Barricaded Suicidal Male Case # 99-1470

Police attended an address for a report of a male who had taken a quantity of pills in an attempt to kill himself. Upon police arrival, the suspect had barricaded himself inside his suite. Attempts at negotiation to have the suspect open his door were not successful, so police forced entry. Once inside the suite, police were confronted with this suicidal male in his living room in a highly agitated and violent state. Several attempts to have the suspect calm down had failed, and he was threatening that police would have to kill him. At this time, the TASER® Weapon was deployed utilzing the laser sights only. Once the subject was illuminated with the two laser dots and advised that if he did not comply he would be controlled using 50,000 volts of electricity, the suspect immediately complied, and surrendered to police without further incident.

  1. Barricaded Suicidal Female Case # 99-2992

Police attended an address for a report of a female who had barricaded herself in her suite due to the fact that she believed that her and her husband were entangled in a conspiracy. Upon police arrival, it was very apparent that this female was very delusional and required psychiatric treatment. Several attempts to have this female open her door were not successful and during this negotiation process, she had thrown several knives at police and stated that she had many more in her suite and would kill anyone who attempted to gain entry. It was also learned that this female had a 91 year old husband inside. Due to the nature of this call, an ERT limited call out was utilized with negotiators. After about one hour of failed negotiations to have this female suspect open the door, it was forced open by ERT members. Once inside the residence, it was noted that the female had set up several obstacles in an attempt to barricade entry. Negotiations continued until such time as this female rushed police with a knife and then once again retreated. It was decided that the TASER® Weapon would be utilized. The female suspect again appeared, at which time the TASER® Weapon was deployed without success due to the fact that one of the two darts had hit an obstacle and missed the suspect. Although the TASER® Weapon was not effective in this incident due to the missed dart, its deployment still has a surprise factor which allowed ERT members to take the female into custody without further incident.

  1. Barricaded Suicidal Female Assist Esquimalt P.D. Case # 99-3619

Esquimalt police contacted our department requesting the TASER® Weapon to assist with a female who was armed with scissors and was going berserk in a locked bathroom. Upon arrival of VCP members armed with the Taser, several attempts to have this suspect come out of the bathroom had failed and it was very apparent that she was deranged and would not respond to rational conversation. Due to the nature of this call, police attempted to force entry into the bathroom, at which time the suspect began stabbing at officers through the gap in the doorway. EPD members deployed pepper spray into the bathroom, but it had no effect on the suspect. The female suspect continued to go berserk and when she stepped out from the bathroom door, still armed with a set of scissors, the TASER® Weapon was immediately deployed. Upon being hit with the two darts, the suspect immediately froze and then collapsed into the bathtub at which time she was immediately disarmed by police and taken into custody without further incident. Sgt. Russell of the Esquimalt police was so impressed with how well the TASER® Weapon worked in this incident he stated, "There is no doubt in my mind that without the TASER® Weapon we would have been faced with the choice of risking personal injury in an attempt to disarm the subject or using deadly force on a human being who had lost the ability to think rationally."

  1. Violent Male ( Feeny Warrant) Case # 99-4186

Officers attended an address to execute a Feeny Warrant on a male who was wanted on an unendorsed warrant, and who was considered dangerous to police. Upon entry, members located the male in bed. When verbal commands were made to the subject to prone out on the floor, he ignored police , got out of bed, and began walking towards officers in an aggressive manner. The TASER® Weapon laser sights were illuminated on the subject who was also advised that if he did not stop, 50,000 volts of electricity would be applied. Upon hearing this, the subject immediately got down on the ground and complied with all further police commands without incident.

  1. Barricaded Section 28 MHA Female Case # 99-7777

Same female as noted in case study number 4 above, ( 99-2992), again went off her medications and threatened to kill both herself and her 91 yr old husband. ERT limited entry utilized, and as team began their search of the apartment, all the ERT members were sprayed with Bear Spray by the suspect. ERT members immediately donned their gas masks, and located the female in her bedroom, where she was holding her husband hostage. Verbal attempts were made to have the suspect release her husband without success, at which time one of the ERT members deployed the TASER® Weapon , causing the suspect to release her husband and freeze in place, which then allowed members to arrest her without further incident.

  1. Armed Section 28 MHA male Case # 99-7993

Police were dispatched to attend an address for a report of a possible domestic in progress between two males where a knife had been thrown out of a window. Upon police arrival, members could hear one male voice inside the apartment in question. When police listened further, it was apparent that this male was talking to himself and was in a highly agitated state. When police knocked on the door and identified themselves, the suspect stated, " I’ll fucking kill you". Approximately two minutes later, a totally naked male suspect opened his apartment door. Police immediately observed that the suspect had a twelve inch spike in his right hand, and a five inch deer antler in his left hand. The suspect then began to walk towards the two police members on scene stating, " I’m going to kill you fucking pigs". The TASER® Weapon was immediately deployed , which caused the suspect to drop both weapons and stop in place. As the suspect fell to the ground, his left arm fell across one of the wires causing it to break. Suspect was then advised that if he did not stay face down on the floor, he would be hit with a second set of darts. Suspect was taken into custody without further incident. It should be noted that the cover officer did have his firearm out and pointed at the suspect when the Taser was deployed, in the event it failed to stop the suspect.

  1. Violent Section 28 MHA Case # 99-9405

Police were dispatched to RJH emergency, to assist hospital staff with a violent section 28 MHA male who had broken out of his leather restraints while being held in one of the psyche rooms. Upon police arrival, male was still in a highly agitated state. Doctors stated that this male was an extreme danger to himself and others, and needed to be chemically retrained for his own safety. Members armed with the TASER® Weapon entered the room and pointed it at the patient and advised him that if did not lay face down on his bed, he would be controlled using 50,000 volts of electricity. Upon hearing this, the male immediately complied which then allowed medical staff to chemically restrain him without further incident.

  1. Violent Suicidal Male Case # 99-9425

Police were dispatched to attend an apartment in the View Towers, for a report of a male who was throwing large pieces of furniture off his 12th floor balcony. Upon police arrival, this male could be seen hanging ¾’s off his balcony stating he was going to jump. Members attended to this males apartment and upon entry, one of the female officers called the suspect by name, at which time he pulled himself into his

apartment thinking it was a girlfriend of his. When the suspect made eye contact with police, he immediately turned and began to run back towards the balcony at which time the TASER® Weapon was deployed. Once the two darts made contact with the suspects back, he immediately froze in place and then fell to the ground. As police were attempting to apply handcuffs, the suspect again became actively aggressive and assaultive towards police, at which time a second TASER® Weapon application was applied, and the suspect became totally compliant and was arrested without further incident.

  1. Assault Case # 99-11648

Police were dispatched to attend a local bar for a report of an assault in progress. Upon police arrival, located a male who was very well known to police, kicking another male who was prone on the ground. Verbal attempts to have the suspect stop failed, at which time police members physically attempted to restraint him without success. A third member attended with a Taser, and illuminated the suspect with the laser sighting system and advised that he would be controlled with 50,000 volts if he did not stop and allow police to arrest him. Upon hearing this, the suspect stopped all assaultive actions, and became totally compliant without further incident.

  1. Violent and Armed Section 28MHA Male Case # 99-14542

Police were dispatched to a call where a male suspect, who had a history of violence and weapons, was off his medication, and was threatening his sister with a knife. Upon police arrival, located suspect outside of his residence concealing his hands from police. Attempts were made to have the suspect produce his hands to police but when challenged, the suspect proceeded to run back into his apartment. Members gave pursuit, and located the suspect crouching in a corner and holding an unknown item in his hands. As police approached the suspect, he became combative and approached police at which time the TASER® Weapon was deployed. After being hit with the darts, the suspect froze in place and then fell to the ground where he was arrested without further incident. Even the suspect in this case stated that he was surprised at how fast the TASER® Weapon worked to put him on the ground.

    13 & 14 ) Violent Section 28 MHA Male Case # 99-14687

Police were dispatched to attend RJH emergency to assist staff with a violent section 28 MHA male. Police investigation learned that on the previous night, this male had been arrested by another police agency, where it took four of their officers to control this male, one of whom got hurt. On this occasion, the patient’s medication had worn off and he was again becoming extremely violent and attempting to hurt himself. Attempts were made by security staff and police to have the patient voluntarily comply with their requests, but these attempts failed. In fact, the patient stated, " Fuck all of you ", and proceeded to throw a bottle of urine towards security staff. Patient further stated that if anyone came into his room, he would fight and was not afraid to get hurt or to hurt others. Due to the patients violent state and his need for immediate medical attention, the TASER® Weapon was deployed without warning on the patient who took a fighting stance. Once the two darts made contact with the patient, he immediately froze in place and then fell to the ground where security staff and police held him in place, while medical staff chemically restrained him with two needles. Approximately 5 minutes later the chemical restraint of the patient, who had enough medication in him to drop an elephant, was not taking effect, and he was still violent and combative taunting police and security staff to fight. After ten minutes, doctors stated that this male needed to be moved to the Psychiatric Intensive Care unit for his own protection and for the protection of others. Due to this fact, police again entered the patients room where he again took a fighting stance, and again the TASER® Weapon was utilized. The patient was immediately immobilized ,secured, and medicated further, and then transported to P.I.C. without further incident. Security and medical staff at the hospital were amazed at how well the TASER® Weapon worked to control this violent patient without injury.

With the use of the TASER® Weapon Report Form, I have also been able to collect the following data over the past six months:

USES:

Total of 14

 

HOPITALIZATION:

In the 9 incidents were the darts were deployed, all subjects were transported to RJH emergency for a medical review. In only 3 of the 9 cases, did medical staff have to remove imbedded darts, which was easily done. No other injuries were sustained to any of the subjects from the use of the Taser.

 

TYPES OF CALLS WHERE THE TASER WAS UTILIZED:

 

WERE OTHER FORCE OPTION ATTEMPTED PRIOR TO TASER USE:

DID THE TASER WORK TO CONTROL THE SUBJECT:

In 13 of the 14 incidents, the TASER® Weapon did work to control the subject. In the one failure, the bottom dart missed the subject thus no electrical circuit was made.

 

HOW MANY SECONDS DID IT TAKE FOR THE TASER TO CONTROL THE SUBJECT:

The shortest time recorded was 2 seconds, and the longest was 15 seconds. The average was between 3-5 seconds.

 

HOW FAR FROMTHE SUBJECT WERE YOU WHEN THE TASER WAS DEPLOYED:

The shortest distance recorded was 4 feet, and the longest was 10 feet. The average distance where the TASER® Weapon was deployed was between 8-10 feet.

HOW MANY IMPULSES DID YOU HAVE TO APPLY TO THE SUBJECT TASERED:

WAS MORE THAN ONE CARTRIDGE USED:

This question was asked due to the fact that the TASER® Weapon we are using has the ability to deploy two sets of dart if the primary set fails. In all of our incidents, only one cartridge needed to be used.

DID DARTS PENETRATE THE SKIN:

WHERE ON THE BODY DID THE DARTS MAKE CONTACT:

HOW WAS THE SUBJECT FACING YOU, WHEN THE TASER WAS DEPLOYED:

IN YOUR OPINION, HOW WELL DID THE TASER WORK IN THE SITUATION DEPLOYED:

DESCRIBE THE SUBJECTS ACTIONS UPON BEING TASERED:

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS MADE BY OFFICERS AFTER THE USE OF THE TASER:

Due to the fact that our department is the first police agency to use the TASER® Weapon in Canada, there was a large amount of media attention surrounding it. To date, all t.v., radio, and printed news articles have been extremely positive. In fact , I was interviewed by one of our local newspapers, and the reporter stated that he attempted to find some controversy about the Taser, but was unable to do so. It should also be noted that the B.C. Civil Liberty Association even stated publicly that if the TASER® Weapon was used appropriately, it would be a good addition to police force options.

There is no doubt that our six month study has been an overwhelming success. Although ,when conducting the research on this tool I new it would effective, I would be lying if I did not say how surprised I was in our results. In the first incident where the TASER® Weapon was used, medical staff at RJH credited the TASER® Weapon for saving that person’s life. Even if we had no other TASER® Weapon uses during our six month study, that first incident would have made the TASER® Weapon a viable option for our department. There is also no doubt that in several other incidents in our study, if the TASER® Weapon was not available, members would have had to resort to the use of deadly force.

As the Department’s Use of Force Co-ordinator, I would recommend that as a result of this study, the TASER® Weapon be deployed and adopted for use, as a force option by our Department on a full time basis. I would also recommend that all members of our department receive training in its use.

Sgt Darren Laur

Control Tactics Co-Ordinator

Victoria Police Department

250-995-7654 ext. 9231

Fax: 1-250-478-9119

email: personalprotection@home.com



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