Police Use Of Force: Research on Tasers. Professor Byrne March 11, 2010. Police Use of Force. Research indicates that police use of force is statistically rare, occurring in approximately 1% of police–citizen encounters (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1999).
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Police Use Of Force: Research on Tasers Professor Byrne March 11, 2010
Police Use of Force • Research indicates that police use of force is statistically rare, occurring in approximately 1% of police–citizen encounters (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1999). • There are approximately 43 million police–citizen encounters in a given year, • Now for some math: What is 1% of 43 million? • 421,000 use-of-force incidents occur annually, which translates into approximately 1,100 incidents in a typical day.
Less than Lethal Force Technology • Political fallout from the lethal use of force has spurred the development of less than lethal alternatives over the past thirty years. • Advances in technology have led to the development of force alternatives such as oleoresin capsicum (OC; i.e., pepper) spray, impact weapons, foams,ballistic rounds, nets and, most recently, conducted energy devices
The Controversy • Issue 1: potential lethality • Issue 2: disproportionate Use against minority residents • Issue 3: inappropriate use against vulnerable populations, such as the mentally ill, the elderly, and young kids
Research Questions • Research examining the effectiveness of the device in the • field has focused on two questions: (1) Does the TASER have the intended physiological effect, • thereby terminating suspect resistance; and more generally, (2) does use of the device reduce • suspect and officer injuries? Unfortunately, limited empirical research is available to answer • these questions.
Research Findings • With regard to suspect resistance, field data analyzed by TASER International(2006) and internal evaluations by police agencies (Seattle Police Department, 2004) place the effectiveness rate of the TASER somewhere between 80% and 94%. • White and Ready (2007) analyzed TASER deployment records from the New York City Police Department and found that suspects stopped resisting and were successfully incapacitated in 86% of incidents occurring during a 4-year period. • In a follow-up study, White and Ready (2009) found that the effect of the device on suspect resistance was mitigated by several factors, including suspect weight, intoxication, and the distance between the suspect and the officer.
Implications for Policy and Practice • First, we need more research on the link between taser use and death. • Second, we need to consider carefully whether taser deployment is a cost effective strategy. • Third, we need more data on the impact of deployment on injuries to both officers AND to civilians.