Joshua Leach, 97th Security Forces Squadron lead investigator and master Taser instructor, talks with members of the City of Altus Police Department during a Taser training May 1, 2012 at the Altus Police Department. Leach is a certified master Taser instructor and recently re-certified 27 Altus police officers, which saved the city approximately $10,000.
ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Joshua Leach, 97th Security Forces Squadron lead investigator and master Taser instructor, recently recertified 27 police officers from the City of Altus Police Department, saving them approximately $10,000.
“The membership and administration for the city and police department felt that a master instructor could add to and augment the instruction our officers had received in the past,” said Police Capt. Mike Bennett, City of Altus Police Department plans and operations captain. “This ensures our officers use this level of force correctly.”
Leach is the only master instructor within 200 miles of Altus.
“The chief of police knew I had a master certification, so he called and asked if it would be possible for me to help him out by teaching his guys because usually master instructors get paid for their training,” Leach said. “To do five classes for the entire department would be about $10,000 … I didn’t charge a dime, it was totally free. Our commander was very supportive of the idea and he gave me the time to help out the local law enforcement.”
During the training, Leach led classes of police officers through classroom training, which refreshed them on case-law, justification of the use of the Taser, and Taser use.
“The Taser is literally the most scientifically tested law enforcement device ever made,” Leach said.
After the classroom portion of the training, Leach took the officers outside for practical application and scenario-based exercises.
“Before, [the officers’] practical application portion was shooting at targets mounted to a piece of wood – that’s it – there were no scenarios, no stress, no nothing,” Leach said. “In law enforcement everything you respond to is stressful. Shooting at a target that is no threat to you is lame. What I was doing was giving them real scenario-based training. I gave them a situation and told them go. This will help them to retain the information that was taught to them and they can practically apply the Taser in field, within the bounds of the law.”
Leach has been Tased 43 times in his career and is an advocate for the use of the Taser.
“The Taser wave mimics the electronic signal the brain sends out,” Leach said. “It just tells all of those muscles between the points of contact to lock up.”
The discharge rate on the Taser is 50,000 volts, Leach said. When it hits the human body and makes a contact it drops to 1,200 volts. It is not the voltage that can hurt someone, it is the amperage. The amperage on the Tasers that all the police officers carry is .0036, which is less than a Christmas tree light bulb by a fifth. That is not even near dangerous to a human. As far as the electricity goes, the risk of any issues is remote, nothing is 100 percent, but it is remote.
The Taser is an intermediate use of force tool and like with any other tool, an individual must train with it to become proficient in its use.
“I am extremely passionate about training,” Leach said. “I have been a police officer at other places and one of the biggest problems I’ve seen involving use of force incidents always boils down to bad or unrealistic training. My goal when I do training is to make it as practical and realistic as I can, which will help them retain the information I am teaching them in a real life situation. That way the officer is safer and so is the subject.”
“I think the instruction from Josh Leach is entertaining and he keeps them interested,” Bennett said.
“My favorite part is when the training is finished and the officers come up to me and actually says ‘hey we appreciate this training, we learned a lot, we would love to do more of this,’” Leach said. “That tells me that one – they appreciate the training, two – it shows they want the training and it is useful for them, and three – it tells me that they value it. When they say ‘hey that was really a damn good training,’ that means a lot to me because I did my job as an instructor by getting them ready for the rigors of the road.”