by Natalie Wolfe
POLICE are appealing to the public to help them find this inconspicuous little black box before someone gets hurt.
The matchbox-sized item is actually a Taser cartridge and the volatile little box can open a lot easier than you'd expect.
During a 10-hour siege in Surfers Paradise on Friday night, a member of Queensland Police dropped the cartridge - and police have been searching for it ever since.
The QPS have since appealed to the public to help them find the box and have warned people about even picking it up.
"The cartridge is to be treated as a dangerous item if found and members of the public are urged not to pick up or handle the cartridge," a statement said.
The reason police are so worried about the box is because of what's inside it, and how the box's doors open.
A Taser cartridge opens from a build up of static electricity, normally created by the main unit it sits in.
That means putting the box inside your pocket or even accidentally zapping it with your finger could make the doors spring open and cause the probes to be propelled via compressed nitrogen.
While the cartridge needs to be attached to the gun to actually conduct electricity, the barbs can still inflict a painful amount of damage considering they are designed to penetrate the skin.
According to the Taser website, the darts can "be easily removed with a swift, firm pluck" however they recommend they are removed by a "professional who is trained to remove the probes".
The law in Australia currently completely restricts Taser ownership in all states and territories.
The weapon is only available for police use with some states even restricting it to special operations groups.
The US on the other hand offers little to no restrictions on Taser ownership in 45 of its 50 states.
While Tasers are seen as a way of dealing with dangerous or harmful situations in a nonlethal way, that doesn't mean they haven't caused numerous deaths in Australia and around the world since their introduction into the police force over 20 years ago.
An extensive investigation done by Reuters found 1005 cases in the United States alone where a person died after police had used a Taser on them.
The death count in Australia is much lower, with at least six deaths being linked to Taser use up until 2012.
When a 2007 report from the United Nations Committee Against Torture said it "was worried the use of Taser weapons provoking extreme pain constituted a form of torture", the Chairman of the Taser Board Tom Smith decided to respond.
After calling the UN "out of touch" with the needs of the modern police force, Smith listed all the other "injuries" police weapons inflict.
"Pepper spray goes on for hours and hours, hitting someone with a baton breaks limbs, shooting someone with a firearm causes permanent damage, even punching and kicking - the intent of those tools is to inflict pain, ... with the Taser, the intent is not to inflict pain; it's to end the confrontation. When it's over, it's over," he said.
Police have encouraged anyone who locates the cartridge to call Queensland's Policelink on (07) 131 444 or phone their nearest police station.