Taser with cartridge and holster
Attackers give up
In light of increasing violence against police officers in North Rhine-Westphalia, four police authorities have been testing an additional operational tool in a pilot trial since January 2021. The practical suitability of the distance electro impulse device (DEIG, colloquially known as Taser) is being tested at several police stations in Dortmund, Düsseldorf and Gelsenkirchen as well as in the Rhine-Erft district.
Streife editorial team

It is designed to stop attackers and resolve threatening situations quickly and with as few consequences as possible. "The deterrent effect of the DEIG is very high, so it is usually enough to just threaten to use it," says Till Fürup from the State Office for
Central Police Services (LZPD) draws an initial positive conclusion.

The trial phase decided by the state government will run until the end of the year. The results will be evaluated on an ongoing basis. At the end of the pilot project, a decision will be made on its introduction. In Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse and Saarland, the DEIG is already part of the general police equipment. Other federal states will follow suit.

"We in NRW still want to check carefully whether the devices prove their worth," says Till Fürup. The 38-year-old police councillor is in charge of the project at the LZPD as head of management. "We receive feedback forms about every DEIG deployment, even if the deployment was only threatened," he explains. The LZPD team from Duisburg maintains contact with the police authorities in the state, who are now using the device in a pilot test. Preparations for the test phase began in September last year. The LZPD NRW set the framework for the education and training of the officers and ensured that enough distance electro-pulse devices could be purchased. The State Office for Training, Further Education and Personnel Affairs (LAFP) developed the training concept in parallel.

The police officers in the selected stations now have a means of coercion at their disposal that temporarily incapacitates the attacker for several seconds with electrical impulses. There have been no serious incidents in North Rhine-Westphalia until the beginning of spring.

To get an idea of the project, "Streife" visited the police station in Hürth in the Rhine-Erft district. Watch manager Mario Larres is satisfied. The 53-year-old officer sees it as a great opportunity to help shape the progress of the project. "Our colleagues are involved because they want to contribute to its success," says the first police chief inspector. "Where other resources are less promising, the DEIG fills a gap in static situations," he explains. "If the troublemaker is standing still but wants to resist, we can stop him without causing him significant injury. As things stand at the moment, this is absolutely convincing. Since the training, even the initial skeptics have been impressed."

Ivonne Hoppen explains how the device works. The police chief superintendent trained her colleagues from Hürth for three days at the Regional Training Center Linnich at DEIG, ran through operational constellations and also discussed legal issues with them. The basic questions were: What can the DEIG do? What is the best way to use it? What distinguishes it from other weapons?

The new "Model Taser 7" is a ranged weapon that causes neuromuscular paralysis after firing two needle-shaped dart electrodes at a distance of up to seven meters. The electrical impulses paralyze the aggressor for seconds and, in combination with a brief, intense pain, make any violent resistance impossible. "However, the device is by no means intended to replace communication," emphasizes Hoppen. "The yellow signal color and the warning to immediately trigger an electric shock are often enough," notes the trainer.

But not always. Tim Hundertmark from the patrol service demonstrates the next escalation step. He presses a button and activates the DEIG. An arc appears, there is a dangerous rattling and two light points fix the virtual troublemaker in place. "That works. Even the stubborn ones almost always give up," says the police superintendent. Many citizens are now aware of the DEIG, adds police commissioner Corinna Petritsch. That makes the work easier. "The respect is huge."

This is shown by real-life examples: in Gelsenkirchen, police officers surprised a gang of suspected burglars in January. They were apparently planning to steal copper from a warehouse. When three men attempted to evade arrest, the verbal reference to the distance electro-pulse device was enough for them to be taken away. Similarly in Dortmund in February, when a patrol broke up a coronavirus party. A 30-year-old, who was apparently under the influence of alcohol and drugs, physically assaulted the officers. When threatened with the DEIG, he stopped immediately. A few days later, flashes of electricity were needed to stop a night-time rioter who threw several stones at a police car.

For operational trainer Ivonne Hoppen, it is important that her colleagues act with tact and sensitivity. The DEIG can make access fairly smooth. "Pepper spray often doesn't work on people who are high on adrenaline, for example." However, if police officers are attacked with a knife, the new weapon is not suitable. Everyone has to act with caution. The DEIG is not an alternative to firearms. According to the operational concept, each individual case must be examined by colleagues before the DEIG is used. For example, use of the DEIG should always be avoided if the police officer is clearly of an advanced age, physically frail, pregnant or appears to be under 14 years of age.

The product, which originated in the USA, has been further developed over the years. The stakes are recorded, even if the device only generates an electric arc as a warning. The current - as opposed to the voltage - is very low. The cartridges have serial numbers. The police officers wear the DEIG - clearly visible - on the outer carrying case or on the belt on the opposite side to the firearm, making it virtually impossible to confuse it with the firearm. "We practiced the handling particularly intensively," summarizes trainer Hoppen. "Everyone can do it after a few repetitions."

In the Rhine-Erft district, Chief Superintendent Stefan Casale coordinated the pilot project as Managing Director. "I make the connection with the overall project and implement it here in the authority." Together with those responsible in Dortmund, Gelsenkirchen and Düsseldorf, positive and negative incidents are collected and discussed in regular video conferences with the LZPD.

Patrolman Tim Hundertmark has switched on the highest warning level.

Patrolman Tim Hundertmark has switched on the highest warning level.

IM NRW / Tim Wegner

There is great respect for the Taser. As a rule, a dangerous situation can be defused simply by threatening to use it.

DEIG: Reenacted deployment scene.

Reenacted deployment scene.

IM NRW / Tim Wegner

The Taser should only be used in static situations when a troublemaker is standing still but is determined to resist. The range is up to seven meters.

Translated with DeepL.com (pro version)
In urgent cases: Police emergency number 110