- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 21, 2001

Waving a knife over his head as he dashed forward, John Boseman was able to take only two steps before Prince Georges County Police Sgt. Charles Bucky Mills pulled the trigger of his new Taser M-26 for a split second.
The knife-wielder fell immediately, before reaching Sgt. Mills. He lay on the mat in Prince Georges police headquarters in Landover for 10 seconds, long enough for officers to grab hold and restrain him.
It was all a fake, except for the Taser shot. The knife was a rubber dagger. Officer Boseman is a police computer forensic specialist who volunteered to be an M-26 target. Sgt. Mills is director of judgment enhancement training to help police deal with emergencies that threaten to get physical and deadly.
Chief John S. Farrell arrived yesterday just after the M-26 demonstration. He had come from the funeral for Metro Transit Police Officer Marlon Morales who was shot in the face while on duty the night of June 10.
"He was killed by some nincompoop out there," Chief Farrell said. Nevertheless, "The goal is to never use deadly force," he said, and the M-26 is a step toward that goal.
The M-26 Taser shoots out two darts, or probes, attached to filaments 21 feet long. The instant the probes strike the target, 26 watts flow through to paralyze the subject. The paralysis from a 5-second pull on the trigger lasts between 30 seconds and one minute, Officer Mills said.
"It doesnt hurt," said Cpl. Tim Estes, police public information officer, who volunteered to take a 26-watt shot. "But you just cant do anything."
The probes penetrate only one-quarter inch into a subjects skin. The electronic jolt works even if it sticks into a layer of clothing, even a ballistics vest, Sgt. Mills said.
"It will get 99 percent of the people down," Sgt. Mills said, then demonstrated how it might be used to stop blockades.
Five officers, arm-in-arm, kneeled on the mat. A probe was attached to the outer arm of the two officers on the end. One touch of the Taser trigger and they all fell on their faces despite Sgt. Mills urging to "fight it as long as you can."
The Taser shock will not interfere with pacemakers, but will stop drug addicts who often seem to be immune to pain, Sgt. Mills said.
After two years of study, Prince Georges police bought 15 of the $370 Tasers. They have been ready for use in the holsters of patrol sergeants for two weeks. So far, not one Taser has been fired on duty. The 50 patrol sergeants transfer the electronic guns as they change shifts.
The Tasers also shoot out a confetti that lists the exact minute, hour and day of the shot. The information will be helpful as police prepare reports of the incident, and if subsequent investigations of police behavior are conducted.
In effect, the Tasers are a last resort. All 1,420 police employees have been trained in the last year to try to talk subjects into peaceful surrender, Chief Farrell said.
From the first, officers have been trained to have their firearms ready to stop subjects who are intent on violence, to protect innocent bystanders and to protect themselves. Gradually, less violent weapons are being used.
Prince Georges is the 800th jurisdiction in the nation, including the Baltimore city police and Fairfax County police and sheriffs office, to employ the Tasers. Sgt. Mills said the Montgomery and Baltimore county police are evaluating the Taser.
The Tasers will supplement, maybe eventually replace, the pepperball shots that Prince Georges police have used since November when all other efforts fail to defuse potentially violent situations. The pepperballs, used 15 times in eight months, sting the flesh and eyes.
For the last eight months, Prince Georges police have also used the WRAP Restraint 21 times on subjects, frequently suicidal, who physically resisted. The canvaslike cushions prevent subjects from kicking and striking.
The effort to reduce the use of deadly and lethal force is slowly succeeding, Chief Farrell said. Violent police contact is "at a 15-year low," he said.

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