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Sunday, May 01, 2011

Police getting Taser with longer prongs

We have grave concerns over this news -- longer probes? It would seem logical that the longer the probe, the more energy would be transmitted in the body. Has Taser International done any research on the physiological effects of shocks using longer probes? One would think the transfer of energy would be vastly different than standard issue, because every extra molecule of metal would transfer current. Are these probes being utilized in Canada??

May 1, 2011
New Zealand Herald

A high failure rate has led to police being armed with new Taser cartridges with longer prongs that can penetrate thicker clothing.

It is understood at least some police have been using the new Taser cartridges, which also have a greater range, since January this year.

Sources say the change was made because the original Taser prongs were having difficulty penetrating heavy clothing.

Police figures show the X26 Tasers have had a greater than 25 per cent failure rate since they were reintroduced in 2010.

National operations manager Superintendent Barry Taylor, who was asked in January about the changes and why they were made, has now said that he is withholding responses because "the information would be likely to prejudice the maintenance of the law, including the prevention, investigation and detection of offences, and the right to a fair trial".

Tasers had been discharged 63 times since they were introduced nationally in 2010. They were ineffective in 17 of those cases.

Eight times, the Tasers detached from the subject or their clothing. In another eight cases, the subject was missed by either one or both probes.

The reason the charge did not work in the other case was still being determined.

Despite the figures, Mr Taylor said, police remained confident of the effectiveness of the Taser.

Police continued to monitor its use, while "utilising opportunities to enhance its operational efficacy", he said.

He also withheld answers to questions about whether any new Taser capabilities had implications from a medical point of view, or if staff using them were being retrained.

The original police-issue X26 cartridges operate optimally up to 5m. The specifications of the new cartridge are unclear, but on its website the Taser's manufacturer says it also makes cartridges for the X26 to suit warm or cold climates, including one - the XP cartridge - that is "ideal for colder climates" and "has a longer probe to penetrate thicker clothing".

Another cartridge features the longer prongs and adds a 10.5m range for situations "where the extra distance is needed".

Asked if she was aware of the changes to Tasers, Police Minister Judith Collins said it was an operational matter for police, but she was happy with any operational change that made police safer in their work.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said it was important police equipment be adapted so it was right for local conditions.

"The more effective it is, the safer it is for both the [target] and the officer."

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