“Did I just hear somebody say, ‘Bull___?’“
There were about 30 law enforcement personnel in the room including legal, administrative, tactical training and supervisory, some assigned to the street and some to the jail.
I heard a few guys chuckling and I looked over to my right and was immediately able to pick out the opinionated one. The smirk and folded arms were a dead giveaway.
“So, are you telling me I’m a liar or you don’t believe it’s possible?”
“Sir, I don’t believe it’s possible.”
“Thank you! I’m REALLY glad you said what most everyone else in this room was thinking and if we were talking about anything other than the TigerLight, you would be absolutely right. Now, I’m going to convince every one of you that when I said the TigerLight has a documented 96% stop rate, not only was I not exaggerating, but if anything, I was understating.”
The sentiments in the room were not only understandable, they were anticipated and expected. It was the same every time I found myself in a room with another group of experts, professionals assigned to evaluate the comparative effectiveness of the TigerLight Technology.
I’ve been in many such rooms over the last couple decades, whether at Fort Leonard Wood or Quantico presenting to the Joint Non-lethal Weapons Directorate, The Air Force Major Command at Lackland or The International Law Enforcement Forum in Ottawa, Canada, the initial reaction was always the same…disbelief. But why?
The answer is practical in nature. The people sitting in the room knew everything there was to know about the effects of pepper spray……or did they?
Most of them had used many different kinds of pepper spray including all the major brands. They had used them in real situations, on the streets. Not only that, they had used pepper spray delivered from the canister in many different spray patterns, including fog, cone, stream, foam. powder and gel.
Not only that, they had used many other types of non-lethal or less lethal devices, including stun devices, less lethal shotguns, pepper guns, etc. They knew from experience and their departments records, that non-lethal devices typically had “stop rates” between 50% and 70%. A non-lethal device with a 96% stop rate was simply unheard of….seemingly impossible!
Of course, we know that there are many factors that affect the purchase decision making process and only one of them is a product’s effectiveness, but first and foremost, I had to convince them that the TigerLight Non-lethal Defense System flashlight was not only effective, but by far, the most effective of any non-lethal device on the planet.
So I told them about a very extensive study done by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Why LASD? Because it was the de facto underwriter’s laboratory when it came to non-lethal weapons research. Commander Sid Heal, who headed up the program, was probably the most respected expert on non-lethal weapon technology.
Most product evaluations at departments were conducted by a handful of officers on the street who would try the device and fill out questionnaires designed to rate the overall effectiveness or performance of the device as well as its safety, ease of use, synergy with other law enforcement tools, etc.. The most important question: Does it improve the safety of officers and civilians while enabling officers to perform their duty.
These evaluations usually last 2 - 6 weeks and then they make a decision to purchase it for the officers or approve it for officer purchase.
In the case of the LASD Study, we hand picked the agency and together with a PhD in Criminal Justice from Cal State and Commander Sid Heal, we spent a year preparing to conduct the study. It was to be a study with 500 deputies over a 6-9 month period. The units would be put with deputies at three patrol stations and a jail.
After we had done all the work putting the study together and conducting Train-The-Trainer training, a competitor who made another flashlight with pepper spray asked to be included in the study.
At first, I was upset they would be allowed to take advantage of all the time, effort and expense we had put into it, but then I thought, “Why not? This is a great way for us to prove our technology is superior.”
We already knew the answer, but this would be a good way to prove it, which we did, in spades.
We were told that a 2-3% reduction in the use of force would be considered a win. WIth use-of-force related liability expenses nearing eight figures every year, a significant reduction was needed.
ARREST ACTIVITY UP 11% DURING STUDY PERIOD!
Wow! WIth arrest activity up 11%, you would think that the use of force would also go up, but something incredibly strange happened.
USE OF FORCE DOWN OVER 30% DURING STUDY PERIOD!
How is that even possible? It just does not make any sense whatsoever. Not only were they getting results that were 10 times what they were hopping for, in the first six months there were 100 violent subject subdued with the use of the TigerLight and 47 more over the next three months . They only used additional force on 4 of them. Also, there were no claims of excessive force and no injuries requiring medical attention.
One might thing that we are saying there was a 30% reduction in the use of force, not counting the use of the TigerLight and that the TigerLight was just replacing the use of other force, but that was not the case, which is why the results are almost impossible to fathom.
You might say, “So, you are telling me that even with an 11% increase in arrest activity, the total use of force, INCLUDING that of the TigerLight, went down over 30%?”
Yes, that is what the study showed. So, why is that? Why would they have to use so much less force to do their job?
It boiled down to emotions. Any arrest scenario is typically highly charged with emotion, that of the subject, who may be emotionally unstable for a variety of reasons and that of the officer who is constantly looking for any indication that he or others might be in danger and evaluating his capability set and response time.
Typically, the only device the officer will have in hand at the onset of an engagement with the subject or subjects is a flashlight, the one tool that is in the officers hand far more often than any other device.
However, a typical flashlight does not offer much help if things suddenly go bad while in close proximity. If it is a large flashlight, it might be used as a striking device, if such is allowed by department policy, which it often is not. So the next split second decision that has to be made is which of the available options to select. Does the officer grab his baton, his pepper spray, his Taser or his gun? That could easily be a life and death decision for himself and/or the subject.
If he grabs his Taser, he can’t also grab his gun, not even if he throws his flashlight down. If he grabs his gun, he has just given up his non-lethal option.
These all cause high stress and tension, a vicious cycle that often leads to more use of force. The TigerLight changes this dynamic, entirely.
The officer or deputy knows something the subject does not. He knows he has the ability already in his hand, to incapacitate the subject in a split second, so his tension level is down. He is more calm and collected. His voice is lower. His posture is less aggressive and less apt to escalate the situation. He is less apt to pull his taser or gun, but he can. He can have his gun in one hand (lethal force) and his TigerLight (non lethal force) in the other hand and can transition from one to the other in a split second, offering multiple advantages and zero disadvantages.
This dynamic resulted in any kind of force being used over 30% less often. It also resulted in an estimated 4-6 lives saved because when in lethal force situations, officers were able to use the TigerLight instead, while not sacrificing their lethal force option. Several subjects and their families, relatives and friends were very grateful for the TigerLight.
WHAT ABOUT THE 96% STOP RATE?
The answer is simple. Think of an MMA fight. Two guys can get in the ring and punch and kick each other in the face hundreds of times and keep fighting, even with serious injuries. However, when one of them is able to restrict the breathing of the other with a good choke hold, the fight is over in a few seconds. There is no greater human emotion than the desire for oxygen.
WIth a TigerLight in hand the subject is unaware that he is about to be sprayed as opposed to when he sees the officer with the pepper spray in hand. That stealth delivery, combined with accelerated cone spray, has a devastating impact on the subject’s ability to breathe. It takes away all but his survival breathing. Although not a significant threat to his well being, it is devastating to his ability to fight or resist.
This has shown to be true over years and years when part of the departments officers used TigerLights and part used regular spray. The TigerLight more than doubled the results of pepper spray in some cases, but that is only part of the benefit. It is also far more likely to be used than regular pepper spray on a belt or than other higher risk alternatives.
We actually got accused of putting something illegal in the TigerLight because a certain large department back east did not believe pepper spray could do what the TigerLight does. I told him it was because of our secret formula combining iocane powder and fuzzy mustard, but I was only kidding…or was I? :)
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