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Controversial Technologies: Xrep and X12 Taser Shotgun

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  • Pages: 7
  • Word count: 1700
  • Category: Police

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Since ECD (Electronic Control Devices) such as Tasers were introduced, officers of the law have been relying less on lethal force and more on what is known as less-lethal force. The Tasers commonly used in law enforcement, however, only had a range of about twenty feet. This created a “capability gap” of 35-65 feet where the officer could not use a Taser and was hesitant to use a gun, but the assailant could still throw something deadly. As a result, the XREP (eXtended Range Electronic Projectile) a self-contained version of traditional Tasers, was the solution. To go along with the XREP, the X12 was a specially designed shotgun to maximize the ability of the XREP Taser shotgun shells and prevent the use of real shotgun slugs within it. These new weapons should be used for law enforcement purposes. Tasers like the X26, which is the wired Taser commonly used in law enforcement now, and the new XREP both have unique benefits, but both operate on the same basic principle of interfering with human’s electrical communication signals.

Every human needs electricity to survive and function. Most importantly to ECD weapons, electrical signals are used in the body to send communications between the brain and muscles. These weapons do not operate on sheer power alone, but instead they mimic the electrical signals between the brain and muscles and interrupt them (Taser International, 2012). This is what makes a Taser less dangerous than other types of shocks like one delivered from an electrical outlet. Also, electrical outlets have a high current but medium voltage, while ECD weapons have a low current but high voltage, making ECD’s much safer. Taser International compares wall outlets and ECD’s to waterfalls and rainfalls respectively (Taser International, 2012). According to Taser International (2012):

By way of analogy, let’s compare a waterfall to rainfall. The pressure or voltage behind each droplet of water in the waterfall is actually a lot less than for each rain drop – because the rain drop is falling from a much greater height. So, the “voltage” of this waterfall is much less than for rain. However, the rate of flow or “current” for the waterfall is much, much higher than for the rain, which falls in small droplets separated in space and time compared to the continuous flow of the waterfall. The Taser ECD operates in a way that will not significantly injure the assailant by using sheer force but instead simply interrupts communications.

The Taser XREP is composed of eight parts: shell, fins, nose, barbs, hand trap, transformer, microprocessor, and power source. The shell is a shock-absorbing plastic that contains the entire apparatus and protect it from the blast (Dyer, 2010). The fins deploy after firing to ensure accuracy, since officers are aiming away from the face and chest (Dyer, 2010). The nose contains the four barbs that first come into contact and impale the skin (Strickland, 2009). Then, on contact, the force of impact causes the rest of the XREP to separate from the nose and hang on a live copper wire (Dyer, 2010). To deliver the stronger incapacitating shock, another contact point with the skin other than the nose (Strickland, 2009). If the assailant does not follow instinct and grab the copper wire to attempt to pull out the barbs on the nose, then barbs on the hanging part of the XREP pop out and contact the skin to complete the circuit (Dyer, 2010).

The hand trap is referring to the live copper wire that hangs down after impact, acting as another possible contact point with the skin. The transformer converts energy from the battery into the discharge of 1.3 milliamps (Dyer, 2010). Again, this power is relatively low compared to the wall socket which outputs 20 amps. The microprocessor commands the Taser to fire once the circuit is complete (Dyer, 2010). Once the electricity is being delivered, the microprocessor controls the intensity, duration, and shape of the electrical current (Dyer, 2010). The XREP is powered by two regular lithium batteries (Dyer, 2010). All of these parts work together to achieve the goal of assailant incapacitation.

Taser International and personal interviews provide numerous pieces of evidence such as statistics, health studies, and personal experience to support the relative safety of ECD weapons. According to Taser International (2012), “Based on statistics, Taser applications have been determined to be safer than high school sports.” With further study, this has shown to be true. Out of 7.2 million high school athletes in the 2005- 2006 academic year, 2 million were injured, 50,000 visited the doctor’s office, and 30,000 were hospitalized (Weisenberger). Therefore, 28 percent of high school athletes are injured during one academic school year. According to Ted Czech and his Taser Fatality Studies, it was determined that 99.75% of assailants subjected to the Taser ECD shock suffered minor to no injuries, defining mild injuries as small scratches or bruises (Czech, 2009). Also, in one of Taser International’s countless health studies, the Effects of Taser on human health published in May 2007, it was stated that, “Now, the final results of a study conducted by emergency medicine physicians at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Medical Center showed no lasting effects of the Taser on healthy test subjects.”

Finally, in a personal interview with Corporal, Pistol Expert, and certified Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions instructor Michael Streett of the Baltimore County Police Department, he shared his knowledge of ECD weapons. He stated that Tasers are relatively safe, especially because they are the first alternative to lethal force. Also, the only pain an assailant feels in regards to being tasered is during the actual process (Streett, personal communication, 2013). Meaning, after the electrical current stops flowing, the assailant feels no pain, and suffers little injury. This support provides evidence that ECD’s are relatively safe, especially compared to other weapons. ECD weapons themselves also reap many benefits as opposed to other lethal or non-lethal options. Most importantly, ECD’s prevent the use of other dangerous alternatives such as guns, pepper spray, or nightsticks. Also, in the personal interview with Corporal Streett, he brought up an interesting fact about police officers’ training in regards to lethal force.

“Shooting to incapacitate” when using a Taser means to aim anywhere on the body except for the face and chest, which seems a common sense fact to prevent unwanted effects other than brief incapacitation. “Shooting to incapacitate” when referring to guns and lethal force, however, means aiming for the face and chest area (Streett, personal communication, 2013). A brief ECD shock to the arms, legs, or back is much less commonly lethal than a gunshot to the face or chest. Finally, Corporal Streett stated that Tasers were so effective because, while someone is in the process of being tased, it is extremely painful. He views this as positive, because most assailants only need a Taser warning to comply with the officers, and no real force is needed. ECD’s are an effective choice because they have less chance of fatalities or injuries, and are a daunting option to criminals to strongly urge them to respond without force. Since, XREP’s are ECD’s, they share the same benefits, but the XREP has specific benefits of its own.

The XREP protects officers as well as assailants more so than any other model of an ECD weapon. As discussed earlier, the XREP is designed to overcome the capability gap of 35- 65 feet where the assailant is out of Taser X26 range, but still within throwing range (Strickland, 2009). The gap pushes officers to use deadly force, but some can be hesitant to do so, because of the controversy that follows a police shooting and possibly the thought of killing someone. Any hesitation is extremely dangerous to an officer in the field. The XREP covers the capability gap with its 100 foot range (Strickland, 2009). Now, police officers can incapacitate an assailant from further away and more quickly to ensure their own safety. On the other hand, the XREP also protects assailants. Again, if an assailant is out of Taser range, law enforcement will use deadly force. Officers are trained to “shoot to incapacitate” when using lethal force, which means they aim for the face and chest area (Streett, personal communication, 2013). Now the XREP can be used instead of lethal force, which has a much lower mortality rate than guns.

The XREP protects officers and assailants, and in turn will protect the general public. Any kind of Taser deployment brings health concerns about heart attacks and respiratory issues. There have been endless studies conducted, however, proving that no significant harm comes to the assailant. For example, The Effects of the eXtended Range Electronic Projectile (XREP) on Breathing states specifically that, “This study demonstrates that the XREP does not significantly impair respiratory function.” Other ECD and XREP specific studies show that the heart is not significantly affected by the Taser or XREP either (Hambling, 2009). This new type of Taser brings ethical concerns as well. Many are worried that officers may become “trigger happy” and shoot the XREP without just cause, because it makes it so easy to incapacitate without significant harm.

Many are also worried that civilians may take advantage of this product as well, because the manufacturer Taser International sells to civilians, police officers, and military alike. To prevent this, only trained officers of law enforcement and military personnel should be authorized to possess and use this weapon. Training for the military and police force includes situational awareness, skill training, as well as ethical and moral training, which are all necessary to safe operation of the XREP. Without this, this weapon is dangerous and should not be used by untrained civilians. Overall, this weapon is relatively safe and will end up saving countless lives of officers of the law and criminals. To this day, ECD’s have saved 101,567 people from potential death or serious injury by using Tasers instead of guns (Taser International, 2012). That number will grow even more once the XREP and X12 become more popular and accepted, since it extends the traditional Taser’s range by 80 feet.

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