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Major Lesson Plan: TASER® Applications for Learning

Major Lesson Plan:

Target Audience: Law Enforcement personnel who may be faced with the task of using an electronic control device

Objective: Provide officers with essential knowledge with respect to some of the current issues surrounding electronic control devices

Format: Roll-call/ supervisory training.

Time: Five to ten minutes, but this may be expanded where agency resources allow.

Materials: Law Enforcement Risk Management Legal Update, August 2005; agency policy relating to electronic control devices.

Hypothetical #1- Law enforcement personnel respond to a call of a suicidal man who is holding himself hostage with a knife. After applying several crisis intervention techniques, the man fails to comply and begins to become more self-threatening. Officers decide that they will attempt the use of a Taser®

Question #1-Do officers need to warn the man before discharging the device?

Answer #1- No, consistently with the cases and the IACP model policy concept paper, it may be wiser not to give the warning so that the man has no opportunity to take evasive action which would put the officers, as well as the man, at a greater risk.

Hypothetical # 2- The officer who discharges the device misses and the man runs into his garage where he douses himself with gasoline. The man pulls out a Bic lighter and threatens to light himself up.

Question #2- Should the officers make a second attempt at using the Taser®?

Answer: No, once the man doused himself with gasoline, the use of the Taser® would no longer be viable. Gasoline, when hit with an ignition source, such as the electrical current of the electronic control device may set off a fire or, in the case where the gasoline has vaporized, may actually cause an explosion.

Hypothetical #3- During roll-call, Sergeant Gibson notices that one of her officers; Deputy Tacklebury is wearing a new holster (personally purchased) for his shiny new Taser®. The Taser® holster is strapped, just below Tacklebury’s .44 auto-mag. handgun (also personally purchased).

Question #3- What steps, if any, should the sergeant take?

Answer #3- The sergeant should prohibit Tacklebury from wearing the Taser®, in any fashion, on the strong-side and should require Tacklebury to wear it on the weak-side as recommended by the manufacturer due to the possibility of accidentally drawing his firearm due to “muscle-memory control.”

Hypothetical # 4- 5 officers respond and are trying to control a bizarre-acting, naked man. The officers, in an attempt to avoid grappling with the suspect have discharged the electronic restraining device several times, but are having no luck at controlling the man who seems to be reaching a point of exhaustion.

Question #4- Should officers continue their use of the electronic control device?

Answer #4- No, officers should consider utilizing other options for several reasons. First and foremost, the continued use or multiple discharges of a Taser® has been shown to increase the likelihood of danger to health. Second, there are 5 officers present, thus, there is not the same level of danger to officers as would exist if one officer were trying to control this individual. Third, as a subject becomes more exhausted the potential for an excited delirium death increases, and finally, the electronic restraining device does not appear to be working on this individual.

Question # 5- When should a deputy or officer seek medical assistance for a person who has been subjected to the use of an electronic control device?

Answer #5- Department policies may require that all persons subjected to an electronic restraining device be examined, at a minimum, by emergency medical technicians who respond to the scene. Such policies, where the resources are available are extremely helpful to the agency. At a minimum, officers should provide for medical attention where: the person was struck in one of the sensitive areas; officer cannot safely remove the darts [where darts have penetrated the skin, medical removal is suggested]; persons are showing abnormal signs of physical distress [not those normally associated with electronic control device usage] or do not appear to recover after a short period of time; any persons falling in a vulnerable class such as pregnant women, elderly, juveniles or persons who are small in stature; and, any person who requests medical attention.

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