SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- Security Forces Airmen at Selfridge Air National Guard Base have begun using a new tool to protect the base.
Security Airmen are now being issued Taser electroshock weapons as part of their gear for use while on patrol around the base. In addition to providing overall base security, Security Forces personnel serve as law enforcement officers on the base and provide additional layers of security to sensitive areas, such as the base flight line.
Security Airmen said the Taser weapon will help them to "bridge the gap" between the use of verbal orders to an individual and the use of deadly force.
To prepare for the use of the weapon, security Airmen have been undergoing a series of classroom sessions, which includes a demonstration of the use of the weapon on several volunteers. During the January drill weekend, eight volunteers were tased as part of a training session, attended by several dozen Security Forces personnel.
"There's no doubt it works," said Senior Airman William Lizenby, shortly after he was on the receiving end of a five-second jolt of electricity from the Taser. "I couldn't move. It felt like it went on for far longer than the five seconds."
During the training, each of the volunteers were given five second jolt, after which the weapon stops sending out current. Each volunteer fell to the ground after receiving the jolt. Several were instructed to kick their legs or perform other actions while being shocked, but were unable to do so, demonstrating the effectiveness of the weapon. Once the current stopped, those who had been shocked were able to get up under their own power, but were shaken for a few moments. During that time, Security Forces would be able to apply handcuffs or take other similar actions as needed, said SSgt. Munir Joarder, one of the Airmen providing the training on the new tool.
"The X26 Taser primarily functions by creating neuromuscular incapacitation; the device interrupts the ability of the brain to control the muscles in the body," said Master Sgt. Dan French, operations NCO for the security forces squadron at Selfridge. "This creates an immediate and unavoidable incapacitation that is not based on pain and cannot be overcome.
Prior to the issue of the Taser, Security Forces personnel had used a collapsible baton as their primary non-lethal force weapon. Staff Sgt. Steven Marcotte, who also led part of the training, said the Taser provides advantages over the use of the baton.
"First of all, it provides a little distance between you and the suspect," he said. "That helps to prevent you getting into a wrestling situation with someone."
In addition to the Taser, Security Forces Airmen will continue to carry firearms as part of their patrol gear. Marcotte said the Taser is being introduced across the Air Force.