Every law enforcement officer in the state of Texas is required to get several annual certifications. On Wednesday, March 20, Sgt. Stephen Yohner of the Hearne Police Department held an annual training for police-issued tasers. Yohner is certified to teach the class and he opens up his annual lessons to anyone in the county that needs to re-up their certifications. This year, not only several members of HPD attend, but officer Tim Skeide from Franklin Police Department and Constable Benny McRae of Precinct 2 took the instruction as well.
Tasers use electrical current to disrupt voluntary control of muscles causing a person to be incapacitated. Someone struck by a Taser experiences stimulation of his or her sensory nerves and motor nerves, resulting in strong involuntary muscle contractions. Tasers do not rely only on pain compliance, except when used in Drive Stun mode, and are thus preferred by some law enforcement over non-Taser stun guns and other electronic control weapons. Tasers were introduced as non-lethal weapons to be used by police to subdue fleeing, belligerent, or potentially dangerous people, who would have otherwise been subjected to more lethal weapons such as a firearm. A 2009 Police Executive Research Forum study said that officer injuries drop by 76% when a Taser is used.
The Taser fires two small dart-like electrodes, which stay connected to the main unit by conductive wire as they are propelled by small compressed nitrogen charges similar to some air guns or paintball guns. The air cartridge contains a pair of electrodes and propellant for a single shot and is replaced after each use. There are a number of cartridges designated by range, with the maximum at 35 feet, which is effective at incapacitating a person at a distance. When the electrodes are discharged, the gun also discharges small metal plates with the serial number of the device so that the officer who fired the Taser can be identified. The electrodes are pointed to penetrate clothing and barbed to prevent removal once in place.
Some Taser models, particularly those used by police departments, also have a "Drive Stun" capability, where the Taser is held against the target without firing the projectiles, and is intended to cause pain without incapacitating the target. "Drive Stun" is the process of using the EMD weapon Taser as a pain compliance technique. This is done by activating the EMD and placing it against an individual’s body. This can be done without an air cartridge in place or after an air cartridge has been deployed.
Hearne PD would like to thank Robertson County EMS in Hearne for the use of their training room for the certification class.