Run with your gun Part 3: If you can't take it with you ...

   It is my hope that my series on fitness has encouraged officers to continue to enjoy moderate fitness, along with the other components that make up a well-rounded law enforcement officer.

   I enjoy cycling the most, but I also recognize the need for upper body strength and core fitness. This should preempt any questions about what the best exercise is for law enforcement. Officers should vary their routine in order to maintain total fitness. Don't get me wrong -- right now I cycle 98 percent of the time. When I'm not cycling, training includes core fitness and shooting specific exercises (see the April 2010 issue). Fitness hobbies that include joint manipulation and grappling training are always beneficial, too. I recommend exploring something like jiu-jitsu or an eclectic martial arts style.

   In the previous installment, I stated that officers should not work out without a cell phone, an ID and a gun. Ten years from now this will still be sound advice, even if the officer works out indoors. When TASER International launched the TASER C2, I immediately recognized the potential for this design. My TASER C2 fits in the back pockets of my cycling jersey without bogging it down or choking me, right alongside my cell phone.

   The TASER C2 is the civilian version of the well-known law enforcement device. Its effects and technology are exactly the same -- both fire an incapacitating pulse which interrupts sensory and motor functions of the nervous system. Yet it differs from the law enforcement version in a couple areas: it is legal to carry in most states and it is absolutely perfect for maintaining a margin of vigilance while exercising.

   The TASER C2 does not look like a handgun, or even a law enforcement TASER. Rather, it looks like one of those expensive razors one finds in a gadget store. You know, the kind that cleans and sharpens itself overnight in a pedestal on the bathroom counter while being bathed in a mysterious blue glow. This is one of the reasons TASER C2 is well suited for law enforcement fitness -- it is innocuous looking.

   TASER C2 was designed for civilian use, which precludes levels of force dynamics intended to affect an arrest. For example, some policies allow certain devices to be used to overcome passive resistance or prevent further escalation. The TASER C2 (and similar devices designed for the general public) belongs in the category of self-defense products.

   I have "taken a ride" on an ADVANCED TASER M26 model, which, as everyone knows, is an unforgettable experience. For the uninitiated, this "ride" is the act of experiencing the incapacitating power of a TASER. It is not particularly an exclusive club. TASER International is one of the most transparent companies I know. They gather data at every opportunity and encourage law enforcement officers to experience Neuromuscular Incapacitation (NMI).

   I have talked to (and watched) dozens of officers who have "taken a ride." Those of us who are familiar with the effectiveness and safety of the products serve as testimony for the efficacy of the TASER line.

   The TASER C2 is an NMI product which fires the trademark probes at 15 feet, rather than the 30 feet of its law enforcement bigger brothers. Its button activator is covered by the trigger safety cover. Sliding the door activates the LED illuminator and the laser-aiming device while arming the unit. Pressing the trigger launches the probes, which are connected to the unit by insulated conductive wires. (TASER provides a DVD, instructional materials, and comprehensive customer support for their clientele. We encourage everyone to read the materials and watch the video.)

   The trigger safety cover is flush with the unit. It slides to the rear with a moderate amount of pressure. I found the unit's textured surface and asymmetrical shape allowed for quick and easy orientation just by feel. The sliding cover has detents which allow the user to know it is positively open or closed.

   When the trigger safety cover is opened, the LED illuminator and laser-aiming device switch on. The LED illuminator is not particularly bright, but bright enough to identify and confirm a target in total darkness. The laser is a confidence builder. First, one of the probes more or less follows the line of the laser. The other falls away at a subtle angle (approximately 8 degrees), allowing ideal separation of the probes. This improves the effect of the device. The laser is optional on the TASER C2; do not purchase one without it.

   TASER International recommends targeting large muscle groups. I didn't have any problem orienting and quickly aiming the device. Some evidence suggests the laser and illuminator can help de-escalate an incident before it is consummated.

   The C2 cartridge resembles its law-enforcement cousin. It is propelled by nitrogen and has the trademark blast doors. It is smaller and lighter. It also releases tiny confetti like particles when fired, which get on everything. This is the Anti-Felon ID System (AFID) tagging. Unique to each fired cartridge, its purpose is to aid in identifying the suspect later.

   The manual of arms differs from the law enforcement version, too. The civilian user is not supposed to recover the unit once it is deployed. Once fired, the NMI pulse continues for 30 seconds. At that point the user is supposed to lay the device on the ground and escape. TASER International will replace the unit after a police report has been filed.

   AFID tagging is effective in reducing unauthorized (illegal) use of the C2. In addition, an online background check must be completed before the device can be activated. Users can do this on a secure Web site using a CheckLok feature, or they can telephone a toll-free number for activation.

   My TASER C2 is remarkably simple. For a defensive tool, this is important. The lithium power magazine is inserted into the rear of the device. Although it has a sticker saying, "this side up," I recommend making it more asymmetrical so it can only be inserted one way.

   Once activated, an LED beneath the trigger safety cover gives the green light, indicating the device is armed. With the safety cover over the trigger button, one slips a cartridge into the front, being careful not to let any portion of their body in front of the cartridge. The device should be pointed in a safe direction.

   TASER International mentions the resistance one will encounter when slipping the loaded cartridge into the front of the device. This is an area in which I recommend TASER International improves. I had to muscle the cartridge into the device while holding it by the side, according to the instructions. I found later that the fired cartridge is quite easy to remove. I would have preferred they shaved the dimensions just a little to make it easier to insert, especially since one cannot pound it in with the palm, which would be a safety violation.

   One trick that seems to work is to ease the cartridge into the device by pushing it on a rigid flat surface. Use both thumbs, not the thumb and forefinger, to remove a live cartridge.

   The TASER C2 did exactly what they said it would. It has an extremely high hit probability within its recommended distance. A moving target is quite doable. For the uninitiated, it is effective through clothing a great deal of the time. Fifteen feet is a lengthier standoff distance than most other less than lethal devices. The laser-aiming device is daylight friendly and worked just fine in guiding the probe.

   As most experts know, the TASER wave is not simply a pain compliance phenomenon. It shuts everything down. This makes this kind of product much better than a stun device or a chemical irritant. Bad guys can sometimes fight through pain or something in their eyes. The only thing bad guys can fight through that a TASER C2 can deliver is an ineffective or incomplete deployment. That's where the drive stun feature comes into play.

   I recommend a TASER C2 over other products because of the NMI phenomenon. If it just used pain compliance, I can tell you first-hand that the scariest encounter begins with a suspect who shrugs off something that worked just last week in another arrest. I have had a drug induced suspect look at me calmly and say, "You shouldn't have done that." When my backup blew past me doing Code 3 (because of my poor directions), I was certain I was in for a wild ride. Pain compliance is an incomplete answer.

   The TASER C2 does not shut off when the trigger button is released. It cycles for 30 seconds. -- a long time to ride any TASER -- and allows an effective escape for the intended victim. I have no intention of enjoying thirty seconds of TASER induced control.

   As long as there is battery power, the C2 can deliver the drive stun. The lithium power magazine will last approximately 50 30-second cycles before it needs to be replaced. The drive s tun feature is intimidating, even with the deployed cartridge and wires expelled. It is a miniature lightning storm between the electrodes, and the sound alone is an attention-getter. The purpose is for the user to respond if there is no behavioral change when the probes are deployed. Only a fool would deliberately advance into this storm.

   The TASER C2 is not perfect. No protective device will ever be. It is, however, an appropriate tool for a number of situations. It affords a greater standoff distance than most devices and works when the shortcomings of tools like OC are exposed.

   If you can't carry a gun, carry the TASER C2.

   Lindsey Bertomen is a retired police officer who teaches at Hartnell College in Salinas, California.