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How do Tasers Work?

August 7th, 2019 how do tasers work

What are tasers?

How do tasers work? Tasers are electrical weapons designed to deliver electric current to a suspect. The effects of a taser vary from loss of muscle control to more serious effects such as death. Tasers are, of course, not the same as stun guns.

Stun guns must contact the suspect’s body directly. In contrast, tasers are fired at a distance – up to 30 feet – with spear-shaped prongs fired from the gun to the suspect for the delivery of electric current.

Often, the psychological effect of tasers means they don’t need to be fired. Due to the now-widespread use of tasers, suspects are aware of its effects and often are willing to surrender before the taser is fired.

However, this isn’t always the case.

There are several safety concerns with tasers, too. For example, Reuters discovered that there were “1,005 incidents in the United States in which police died after police stunned them with tasers”. However, when used properly, tasers rarely result in death.

How do tasers work?

We can summarize how tasers work as follows:

  • A taser delivers a high voltage, but low amperage shock to the human body, often up to 50,000 volts. This temporary shock is designed to temporarily incapacitate the suspect and allow them to be apprehended.
  • When officers fire the taser at suspects, a protective cover blows off the cartridge and two spear-shaped probes are released and attach to the suspect. Often, this shot can be taken up to 30 feet away, or 7.6 meters. An electrical circuit is created between the taser and the suspect.
  • The electrical shock can penetrate up to 5cm of clothing.
  • The electrical probes release 19 pulses per second, with each charge lasting for around 5 seconds.
  • Nitrogen is used as the propellant within the taser.
  • Even though 50,000 volts are initially fired, by the time the volts reach the suspect, it typically lowers to around 1,600 volts. To put this figure in perspective, a hospital defibrillator imparts up to 700 volts.
  • Volts are used to deliver amps to the body. Put another way, think of volts as a river and amps as the ships that need water to get to their destination.

Even though tasers may result in death, they are only used when other, less forceful means have been exhausted.

Future Training

In learning how do tasers work, we’ve cast light on an important police instrument.

Extensive police training is needed to safely execute the taser. After you pass your police officer exam, you will study tasers in great detail at the police academy. Failure to use the taser as instructed can lead to fatal consequences. Tasers are just one part of a wide range of police equipment that you will be trained to use at the academy.

You will be taught more about how tasers work, as well as understanding more on the specific cases in which it should be used. As with any police response, it’s vital that proportionality becomes part of the conversation.

Check back to our police test blog soon as we review more police equipment, how they work, and how they can assist you in your future career as a law enforcement officer.


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