PHOENIXVILLE - The Phoenixville Police Department have added three X-26 TASERs to their arsenal to fight crime.
According to Sgt. Tom Sjostrom, the new X-26 TASERs are considered less-than-lethal weapons that are designed to transmit electrical impulses that temporarily disrupt the body's central nervous system.
"They are to be used as the equivalent to pepper spray on unruly subjects that pose a threat of harm to themselves or others," said Sjostrom. "Our officers are currently receiving the proper training, and once that is completed, they'll be authorized to carry them on patrol."
Sjostrom, who is the department's X-26 TASER instructor, said the TASERs are exceptional indoors, when the use of pepper spray has the potential of contaminating others.
"From the training that I've received, and the actual exposure to the weapon itself, I know how effective it can be," said Sjostrom. "It is especially useful against unruly subjects who are highly intoxicated or under the influence of drugs and have a high pain tolerance."
The TASERS, purchased at $800 a piece, are made of a sturdy, light-weight plastic, with a handle, trigger and safety lock.
When fired, compressed nitrogen projects two TASER probes 15 or 21 feet (depending on the cartridge) at a speed of 180 feet per second. The probes are connected by thin insulated wire back to the X-26. An electrical signal, 50,000 volts, transmits throughout the region where the probes make contact with the body or clothing. The result is an instant loss of the attacker's neuromuscular control and any ability to perform coordinated action. The TASER uses an automatic timing mechanism to apply the electric charge for 5 seconds.
Sjostrom said the TASER does not depend upon impact or body penetration to achieve its effect.
"Its pulsating electrical output interferes with communication between the brain and the muscular system, resulting in loss of control," said Sjostrom "However, the TASER is non-destructive to nerves, muscles and other body elements. It simply affects them in their natural mode. More importantly, no deaths have ever been directly attributed to the TASER. This is a pro-active effort in stopping crime."
According to Sjostrom, a person hit with a TASER will feel dazed for several seconds.
"The recovery is fast and the effects stop the very instant that the X-26 shuts off," said Sjostrom. "Some will experience critical response amnesia and others will experience tingling sensations afterwards. The pulsating electrical output causes involuntary muscle contractions and a resulting sense of vertigo. It can momentarily stun or render immobilized. Yet, the TASER's low electrical amperage and short duration of pulsating current, ensures a non-lethal charge. Moreover, it does not cause permanent damage or long-term aftereffects to muscles, nerves or other body functions."
Sjostrom said the TASER doesn't have to be fired for it to be effective.
"When you remove the cartridge, the TASER can be used similar to a stun gun," said Sjostrom. "It is called a 'drive-stun' to which it has the same affect as if it was fired at someone. The shock is more centralized instead of penetrating the nervous system. A 'drive-stun' can occur in the groin, leg, side or even in the neck. You'll get the same amount of voltage, without having the probes shot into you."
The use of the TASER will not take the place of pepper spray nor a baton, said Sjostrom.
"The TASER gives us another option on handling certain situations," said Sjostrom. "We've seen through training the various ways to use these TASERs, and they would've come in handy during situations of the past."