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First Person Shooter: Taser's new cop-cam takes aim at perps and privacy

April 9, 2013 | Telepresence Options

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Story and Images by Matt Stroud / The Verge

The stun-gun company wants 'COPS' on steroids, but whom does it serve?

You hear a�click, like the sound of a light switch. Or a pencil being snapped.

You're facing away from it, looking straight ahead, just as you were instructed. The�click�and the searing pain you feel are nearly instantaneous. But your mind tricks you into thinking that there's a distinct period between the�click�and your first realization that something's gone very wrong. Maybe that's because your shooter -- friendly and supportive as he may be; congratulatory, even, that you're dumb enough to volunteer for this -- has prepared you for it, warned you that a pain like no other pain is about to strike you in a way you've never been struck before.

So you just stand there, waiting for it, on the wrong side of target practice.

When it hits you, no matter how much you expect it, it comes as a surprise -- a literal shock, like a baseball bat swung hard and squarely into the small of your back. That sensation -- which is actually two sharp steel barbs piercing your skin and shooting electricity into your central nervous system -- is followed by the harshest, most violent charlie horse you can imagine coursing through your entire body. With the pain comes the terrifying awareness that you are completely helpless. You cannot move. You lose control of almost everything and the only place you can go is down, face first to the floor.

For five full seconds -- an eternity -- this continues. Thousands of volts commandeer your body and leave you convulsing, screaming for your life, helpless.

And when it's over, you want nothing but quiet and calm. You look down at your crotch to make sure you haven't pissed or shit yourself (you were warned of this possibility) and you're glad to be clean.

But you don't want to talk. You don't want to stand. You don't want to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down. You just want to be still. You just want to lie there. Motionless. Happy you're alive. Glad it's over.

That's what it feels like to be hit with a Taser.

A company with a market cap of nearly $400 million, Taser International has become a household name. Nearly 90 percent of the 18,000 police departments in the United States use Tasers. The company is about three-quarters the size of gun behemoth Smith & Wesson, mostly on the strength of just one weapon. The company's founders will tell you the Taser has already "revolutionized policing" by giving officers a non-lethal weapon that's much more effective than pepper spray, billy clubs, or fists.

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