News>Shocking: Grissom ready to roll out electronic control devices
GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- Tech. Sgt. Adam Soultz, a 434th Security Forces Squadron security response team leader, prepares to fire an electronic control device during a training exercise here Jan. 27. All 434th SFS members who could carry an ECD as part of their duty were trained on the devices, which will be worn by Grissom's on-duty security force officers no later than April 1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner)
GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- Karl Williams, a Department of Defense police officer, examines an electric probe of an electronic control device after firing it into a practice dummy here Jan. 27. The probes are fired from these weapons into a person who is either a danger to others or themselves and is not complying with police instruction. The device administers an electric shock through these probes, which temporarily incapacitates a person. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner)
GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- The blast doors and wires of an electronic control device can be seen as Staff Sgt. Justin Coe fires the ECD at an exercise dummy here Jan. 27. Coe, a 434th Security Forces Squadron security response team member, and other Grissom security personnel received training on such devices that they will begin carrying on-duty no later than April 1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner)
GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- Staff Sgt. Justin Coe, a 434th Security Forces Squadron security response team member, test fires an electronic control device during a training exercise Jan. 27. All 434th SFS members who could carry an ECD as part of their duty were trained on the devices, which will be worn by Grissom's on-duty security force officers no later than April 1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner)
GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- Staff Sgt. Dustin Devine, left, shows Karl Williams how to properly clear an electronic control device during a special training session here Jan. 27. Devine is a 434th Security Forces Squadron security forces journeyman and was responsible for training 434th SFS members. Williams is a Department of Defense police officer. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner)
GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- Karl Williams, a Department of Defense police officer, uses an electronic control devices during a special training session held at Grissom ARB. In the training scenario, Williams warns an individual who is not complying with instructions that the ECD could be used. Several 434th Security Forces Squadron personnel were trained on the use of ECDs, which will become part of the resources available to on-duty security forces personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner)
GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- Staff Sgt. Justin Coe, a 434th Security Forces Squadron security response team member, fires an electronic control device during a training exercise Jan. 27 as Staff Sgt. Dustin Devine evaluates his performance. Devine trained all 434th SFS members who will use ECDs, which will be worn by Grissom's on-duty security force officers no later than April 1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner)
by Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner
434 ARW Public Affairs
3/26/2012 - GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- Grissom security forces just got a new weapon in their arsenal, and it may be shocking to some people; at least those who don't comply with officer instruction.
No later than April 1, on-duty 434th Security Forces Airmen and Department of Defense Police here will be carrying electronic control devices in addition to their service pistols.
ECDs are less-lethal weapons, which are used to incapacitate a person using short bursts of electricity administered through barbed darts on wires that can extend 25 feet.
The benefit of these devices is that they are designed to allow officers to subdue an individual from a safer distance and apprehend them without loss of life or major injury to those involved, said Maj. Christopher Witter, 434th Security Forces Squadron commander.
ECDs are also extremely effective because they are designed around electro-muscular disruption technology, which uses a high-voltage, low-power charge of electricity to disrupt the central nervous system and induce involuntary muscle contractions.
"It's very effective on everyone because it short-circuits your synapses, and it's immediate feedback for the individual," explained Witter.
ECDs are beneficial to law enforcement officers for more than just their effectiveness to subdue an unruly person.
"It gives us something between 'stop' and bang," said Witter, referring to the use of force continuum, which provides guidance to officers on how much force they can use in different situations. The continuum ranges from verbally engaging with an individual all the way to the use of lethal force weapons such as service pistols.
"If a person won't comply with verbal demands, there are only a few options an officer has," he added.
Those options include an officer using his own body, pepper spray, an expandable baton, or an ECD.
When an officer tries to restrain an individual using his own body, it puts the officer in direct contact with the individual, increasing the risk of death or injury, said Staff Sgt. Dustin Devine, 434th SFS journeyman and ECD instructor.
Pepper spray and expandable batons also have their own drawbacks.
"There are a couple issues with pepper spray including cross contamination to the officer and the fact that some people are immune to its effects," explained Witter. "With the expandable baton, you're hitting a person with something until they stop what they're doing, and the possibility for injury beyond the officer's intent is possible."
Physical restraint, pepper sprays and batons also all have the same danger of putting an officer close to a potentially dangerous person who has made it clear they do not wish to cooperate. ECDs address this threat by expanding the gap between the two.
"The biggest benefit to us is that the cartridges have a 25 foot range, so I don't have to get close or fight with someone," said Devine.
And, keeping an officer safe while avoiding long-term or serious injuries to everyone involved is exactly what ECDs are designed to do.
"It's about safety," elaborated Devine. "If I go fisticuffs with someone or I hit them with a baton, the effects will last a lot longer than the 5 second (electric shock from an ECD)."
Another advantage of the ECDs is the familiarity Grissom officers will have with the weapon systems that are designed like their service pistols.
"It's point-and-shoot, so (ECDs) give us the option to use something that's like the weapons systems we've been trained on," said Witter, who added that having familiarity with any weapon system can mean the difference between a tragic end or a safe resolution.
While the design of the ECDs does help officers feel more comfortable with the devices, in the heat of the moment this could cause some confusion between an ECD and a service pistol, said Devine while training Grissom officers. To prevent any confusion, Grissom officers will wear the ECDs on the opposite side of their service pistol in a cross-draw position.
On top of that, Grissom security force members have also been extensively trained prior to the ECDs' deployment, said Devine, who trained every single officer who might have to carry an ECD. Devine himself was trained by master ECD instructors at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy and received certification from the ECD manufacturer.
"I feel confident in the training that they had because I've gone through the training with Dustin myself," said Witter. "Its' very in-depth training, and our officers now have all the knowledge, understanding and practical application necessary to deploy the weapon."
Once ECD deployment is complete, Grissom officers will have a safer and more-effective tool they can use to keep everyone on base safe, even those who choose not to listen to officers the first time.
"At the end of the day everyone gets to go home," concluded Witter. "And, that's what it's all about."
The 434th SFS is part of the 434th Air Refueling Wing. Airmen from the 434th ARW, the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in AFRC, routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission and U.S. strategic objectives.