Before we leave the topic of CEWs I need to address two more training gaps / unintended consequences I have observed in CEW training:
- The failure to expose officers to drive stuns.
- The failure to train weapon retention and disarming with CEWs.
Lets start with exposure to drive stuns. Too often the only expose officers observe or experience in training occurs with proper probe deployment to the torso and results in full body lockup. Combine this with the number of times officers have watched someone being rendered unconscious with a drive stun on television and the movies and the result is that some officers are conditioned to believe a drive stun will have the same full body lockup effect as proper probe deployment to the torso.
Across North America we are now seeing officers being disarmed of the CEWs during fights with subjects and the CEW being turned on the officer. What seriously concerns me is that the current training may result in some officers being conditioned to lockup when they are exposed to a CEW attack at contact range. These up close and personal attacks can result from a subject disarming the officer of their CEW or from the subject producing their own CEW and using it on an officer. In my mind this begs the question “Have officers ever been exposed to a drive stun application of a CEW?” Having had this experience they understand that a drive stun exposure is more of an annoyance than anything and that a drive stun does not have the same disabling effect as proper probe deployment to the torso.
This leads me to my next point. Are you training officers in CEW retention and disarming as part of your overall CEW program? In the last year we have seen a number of incidents in North America where officers have been disarmed of their CEWs during violent encounters and the subjects have turned the CEW on the officer. It is not enough to assume that when an officer is facing this situation in the field that the weapon disarming training they received as part of their control tactics program will kick in. Officers need to that these attacks are happening with increased frequency and therefore they need to be prepared for it to happen to them. When it does happen to them they may have to defeat the attack and disarm the subject of the CEW while they are being exposed to the current. They also need to have considered other force options for defeating the attack and the issue of follow up once the initial attack has been defeated.
If your officers are carrying CEWs they must also be trained in retention techniques for that weapon and the carry system they use. This ideally should be an adaptation of the weapon retention technique they are trained in regarding their firearms to ensure consistency in principles. The dynamics however will be different depending on where they carry the CEW. For agencies carrying the CEW on the duty belt on the opposite side of the body from the firearm the retention techniques should almost be a mirror image of gun retention. For those who carry the CEW in a drop holster there will need to be some modifications.
I would challenge you to step back and look at your CEW program. Ask yourself what gaps exist in your training and what potentially unintended consequences of well intentioned training exist.