Police cadets train with tasers

Imagine the formal training for your current job if it included being Tasered with 50,000 volts of electricity.

This is what 35 Mercyhurst College Municipal Police Training Academy students have to face as a part of their training.

Tasers are a non-lethal tool used as an alternative to guns for stopping suspects. Bill Hale, director of the Municipal Police Academy and manager of Law Enforcement Training, has witnessed many Taserings throughout his career.

“Less-lethal weapons are becoming more and more accepted by police departments,” Hale said.

The Taser course allows certification for the officers to carry and use the weapon appropriately in a safe and effective manner.

“We do not make this training required; it is voluntary,” said Hale. “However, in the event that our cadets are interviewing for a position as a police officer, this certification may make them more marketable.”

Along with the cadets becoming more marketable, by experiencing the results of this weapon cadets have a firsthand view of the effects of someone being Tasered.

Besides this program taking a physical toll on cadets, it greatly affects them mentally and emotionally when watching each other endure the pain of the Taser.

“It seems to bring the class together as a group,” Hale said. “As a pre-service candidate for police employment, these individuals deserve considerable credit for dedicating their time and effort in preparing for a law enforcement career. To endure the four-plus months of work, there is no question about their dedication.”

Also, students of the academy have to undergo an intense driving course. This course enables them to learn defensive driving skills used during high-speed chases.

They learn strong maneuverability techniques and ways to avoid crashes. It is significantly important for cadets to become skilled with these techniques for their own and for public safety.

Cadets undergo nearly 800 hours of physical training. The program is challenging mentally, physically and academically. Hale says the passions they show prove they deserve their long-term goals to be a part of the police force.

This 16-hour certification course is being held at the Mercyhurst North East gymnasium. Mike Schleicher, a recently retired policeman from the Millcreek Police Department trained by the manufacturer Taser International, will be Tasering the Cadets.

“I think this is the best kept secret in the college,” said Hale, who noted that all prospective Pennsylvania municipal police officers must train at one of the 16 regional academies.

“Mercyhurst is very fortunate to have this resource,” he said, “and as we move forward, we hope to have more and more students show interest.”