– “Who’s up?”
Instructor Dave Fael glanced around the open armory here looking for the volunteer.
Sgt. Tom Gibson walked toward the blue mats at the center of the floor. “Let’s do this,” said the military Soldier assigned to the 972nd Military Police Company.
The Milford, Mass., resident got to his knees, two aides grasped his arms, and then he waited. Fael positioned himself behind Gibson, raised his weapon, and readied his shot.
“Taser, Taser, Taser!” shouted Fael, as his squeezed the trigger. The device propelled two electrodes into Gibson’s back and then shot crippling voltage through his body. Gibson screamed and fell forward on the mat, his body twitching for moments after impact.
Gibson had just experienced, first hand, the incapacitation power of the Taser X26E Launched Electro-Stun Device, a device just received at military police units in Massachusetts. Two classes of MPs are receiving new equipment training on the tools before they hit the field.
“I volunteered to get hit because I wanted to experience it,” said Gibson after the incident. “If I ever have to do it to someone else, I’d like to know what they’ve going to feel. And, now I know: it’s terrible. It’s the longest five seconds of your life.”
The X26E Launched Electro-Stun Device is the first Army-authorized non-lethal weapon for Military Police, Ranger battalions, and various Special Forces groups, according to Project Manager Close Combat Systems information. The MPs of the Massachusetts National Guard received the devices here Tuesday and are training and qualifying on the systems.
The device aims to non-lethaly incapacitate offenders. Rather than relying on an overwhelming sense of pain to debilitate, the X26E relies on electrical energy to affect the sensory and motor functions of the lawbreaker’s nervous system, said John Berlanga, one of the class instructors, and also a 10-year veteran of the Army Rangers.
“The Taser gives you another means of non-lethal capability. Instead of having to hurt or kill someone, you can now incapacitate them and apprehend them that way,” Berlanga said. “The Taser gives you options. When an MP is in a situation, and he has to make a call, it is good to have a non-lethal choice.”
“It’s great to be able to learn everything about the device,” said Gibson. “We learned about the parts, different techniques to employ it. We were able to fire the Taser at a number of targets in a simulated environment. Also, now I know what it’s like to get hit. It’s not a good time.”