This was originally posted as a comment on the Truth...Not Tasers blog. [LINK]
The following version has been gently edited, and extended.
Let's talk about taser (ECD) electrical safety standards, the lack of them, and the results.
In 1999, Taser International introduced the M26 "Advanced" taser. It had a waveform that was high frequency and very low duty cycle. At the time, Taser International claimed it was safe BECAUSE the electrical output was high frequency and low duty cycle. The monthly taser-associated death rate was less than one per month.
But Taser International continued to fiddle. In 2003, they introduced the X26 taser. They didn't give it a name, but the "X26 Hubris" would be appropriate. This taser model added a harmless-looking little DC pulse to the waveform, and all indications are that even the head of their Medical Safety committee, a man with a PhD in EE, failed to remember his EE 101. He has repeatedly and explicitly claimed that the output still has "short pulses" and a low duty cycle.
In fact, the harmless-looking DC pulse occurs at 19 Hz and is therefore low frequency and continuous 100% duty cycle. The waveform is no longer just high frequency and very low duty cycle as was the case with the 1999-era M26. They've walked away from the two waveform characteristics that they had previously claimed were the reason it was safe with the previous model.
The government regulators did not react to this change because there are no government regulators with responsibility over taser standards. And there are no standards.
The monthly taser associated death rate shows a near step-function increase from less than one taser-associated death per month to about 7 per month starting coincident with the introduction of the newer X26 model in mid-2003.
Looking for references? Here is one to get you started: [LINK].
In fact, the Canadian reports appear to indicate that, even during years when the older M26 taser model was actually being used three times more often than the newer X26 taser, the taser deaths in Canada during that period were reportedly exclusively associated with the X26.
If this preliminary observation from mismatched data sets can be confirmed by the regulators, then it may be critical evidence of the different risks between the M26 and X26 tasers. Oh damn, there are no government regulators.
If Taser International has this info, you can bet that they'll have shredded it by now. If the police have this info, they're keeping it to themselves. The available on-line database does not mention the M26 vs. X26 taser model used. I wonder why? But data gathered by taser critics shows a disturbing X26 bias.
And now, in late-2009, Taser International has just introduced the new X3. It emits about 40% less electrical charge than the X26. And they seem to be keeping the waveform shape and frequency spectrum under wraps. I've poked around and I haven't found the info yet. I'm sure the government regulators would have some questions about the 40% reduction after all the taser deaths with previous model. Oh damn, zero regulatory involvement.
And their new XREP projectile includes an explicit and intentional "Hand Trap" feature that violates their own guidance (revision 1) issued 30 September 2009. They've changed the guidance to avoid having to explain about the arms and hands. I'm sure that the regulators review such life and death critical documents for accuracy and consistency. Oh damn, zero government oversight.
Wild West. Yee Haw.
The lack of government oversight of this one-company industry is as startling as it is inexplicable. The direct result of this hands-off approach has been corporate behaviour that should make any keen observer incandescent with rage.
Nobody noticed that they expunged the RMS current values (about 160 mA) from the data sheets, leaving only the misleading 2 mA "average" value. The inherent claim that the "effective" current is the average is insane nonsense. Comparing the actual effects makes it clear that the effective current is much closer to the RMS value than the "average".
Nobody seems to have noticed that there seems to be a statistical surplus of taser chest hits in those victims that died. Many thousands of trainees were tasered in the back with only a few major injuries reported. But the real world has had police told that "tasers are safe" and they've been firing them into the chest and people die.
And now they advise "avoiding the chest" and make the preposterous claim that this guidance (which carries an extremely high cost to them), is just to help their customers "avoid controversy". What a crock...
If this industry (company) were subjected to even a small fraction of the Federal regulatory oversight imposed on every other company, they'd probably be shut down.
The utter abdication of the governments in their fundamental role to protect the public, not just "criminals" but also those having mental heath emergencies right down to average citizens facing police that, in some cases, are demanding more respect than they've earned... ...this abdication is inexplicable and dangerous. People do not deserve to face a risk of death unless their behaviour escalates to the thresholds defined by Judge Braidwood. All of this overuse, misuse, and abuse stems from the false claim from Taser International that tasers are inherently safe with respect to internal risk factors such as, for example, cardiac effects.
This industry, their potentially-deadly products, their ever-changing story, their manipulative relationships with medical examiners, their fiddling with the "science", their too-nuanced twisting of language, their defective training, all of it. This blog contains dozens and dozens of examples of them playing the system.
It all needs governmental oversight.
If you arrived here on direct link to a specific post, then you may click here if you wish to view all the latest posts on the Excited-Delirium blog.