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The Active Denial System--you're looking at Raytheon's Silent Guardian version, right?
Heal: We're looking at several different versions. The problem with Raytheon is, it was developed for a military application, and there are two big problems that are just inherent with almost every single military solution.
One is that they have $100,000 solutions looking to solve $5,000 problems, and the second thing is that they have really serious issues with mobility and power. So what happens is that they build this huge thing, and then they're surprised that nobody in law enforcement is interested in buying it. We're not going to spend a million dollars on it. We need (for it) to be handheld, and so what we're lobbying the NIJ (
You know, $100 million has been spent on it, and it's probably the most studied less-lethal option in history. We're absolutely confident that with the way it's designed--with all the safety mechanisms--we're not even going to accidentally hurt somebody. Even the injuries that have occurred--they've been basically bad burns. Now, how can they possibly compare that with an M-16, where even a slight injury is going to be more serious?
It's real easy (for critics) to stand there and say, "We don't like these things because of this, this, and this," but what happens is that they don't offer any meaningful alternatives. We'd like it to be perfect too.
Tasers are pretty well-established in law enforcement departments. Do you think that law enforcement gets overcriticized for use of the Taser?
Heal: Well, it's easy to sit and criticize. One thing is that where you put a less-lethal option in the force spectrum is based on two philosophical underpinnings, and both of those deal with the force spectrum itself.
Eighty to 85 percent of all law enforcement agencies use what's called an effects-based philosophy, and that means that where you put a device in the force spectrum is directly dependent upon the likelihood of injury and the severity of the injury to the suspect. So in that case, Tasers are put quite low because the likelihood of injury is very, very low--0.03 percent--far, far less than beanbags, for instance, which is 100 percent.
Shoot a beanbag at somebody, and we know we've got 100 percent chance of hurting him. (These departments) would put (the Taser) in many cases at or below pepper spray, and in those cases, you can use the Taser legally according to your policy, your department, in any of the cases that would also justify use of pepper spray.
Fifteen to 20 percent of the departments use a behavior-based model. A behavior-based model is not focused on the amount of injury to the suspect but rather the amount of defiance by the suspect. In those cases, including in our department, it's placed quite high on the force spectrum.
Now the criticism that it's overused, I think, is appropriate. It's just human nature. What happens has got nothing to do with police work or anything else. It's just the fact that if somebody finds an easy way to do something, the human psyche naturally gravitates toward that. Now, we overcome that with two things--policy and training--but because of the philosophy of doing very little damage and because it's so easy--yeah, I think there are situations that I would have a hard time defending.
Taser is now offering a consumer version of the stun gun, the C2. Do you think the public is ready for having a stun gun in a pocket or pocketbook?
Heal: I hope so, because they've already got guns there. So if you're asking me if we should take the Tasers away when they can legally buy handguns, I see real issues with that.
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