By Staff Sgt. Robert Cloys
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
They call it the 5-second ride.
With 50,000 volts surging through your body at 19 cycles per second, the ride from an electronic control device, or stun gun, doesn’t seem fast, but it will stop you in your tracks.
For Security Forces members at Schriever, “the ride” is just what they need in their tool kit to bridge the gap between tactics used on compliant suspects and those needed in deadly-force situations.
“An electronic control device is a non-lethal weapon that can be deployed to incapacitate personnel, while minimizing fatalities, permanent injury to personnel, and undesired damage to property and the environment to render a subject incapacitated from neuromuscular incapacitation,” said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Carriger, a 50th Security Forces Squadron certified instructor for the course. “In other words, it causes all the muscles in the body to tighten and lock up as long as the current is still passing throughout the subject’s body.”
On Feb. 5, Schriever Security Forces members held a training course to begin adding certified members to their numbers.
The day long course covered all aspects of the non-lethal weapon to include its use and maintenance, proper deployment, the different types, specifications and use-of-force scenarios.
Although experiencing the electronic control device is highly encouraged, it is not a mandate of the course.
However, that did not deter Department of the Air Force Police Officer Ralph Johnson from volunteering for the experience.
“I’ve never been tased before,” Johnson said a few hours before he volunteered for the five-second shock. “For me, it’s curiosity. It’s one more experience I can add to my life.”
But the experience was also something he wanted to have if he was going to carry the stun gun as well.
“If I’m going to deploy this type of non-lethal force on someone, I want to know what the effects are,” he said.
The first time a Security Forces member gets tased is generally out of curiosity, said Carriger before the hands-on portion of the course began, but usually it’s only once.
“The best way I know how to describe how it feels is to think of getting your entire body tattooed all at once, but you can’t move and you can feel the voltage pulsing though your body 19 times per second,” he said.
Having a non-lethal option like the stun gun is highly important. Many agencies have seen significant reductions in injuries, and excessive force complaints and litigation after deploying ECDs.
“All Security Forces personnel are required to carry a less-lethal tool for applying force along with their firearms,” said Lt. Col. Jasin Cooley, 50 SFS commander. “However, there is no single less-lethal tool that is perfect for all tactical environments. The ECD allows us to better match the tools for applying force with the expected tactical environment and adversary. In other words, it helps us better protect national resources here at Schriever, while at the same time reducing the risk to Security Forces personnel as well as suspected adversaries.”
Because it doesn’t cause many long lasting effects, the ECD is a preferred non-lethal method for gaining compliance.
“There are a lot of situations that you can come upon where you don’t need to go to a lethal force option,” said Carriger. “You need something that can go between compliant and deadly force options. This fills that gap.”
On Schriever, it will be one more option law enforcement officers have at their disposal should the need ever arise.