Police Taser Utilization: The Effect of Policy Change

Police Taser Utilization: The Effect of Policy Change

Police Taser Utilization: The Effect of Policy Change

Police Taser Utilization: The Effect of Policy Change

Synopsis

This work examines the effect of policy changes within the Use-of-Force Continuum on taser usage and officer's perceptions of taser effectiveness. Data from 890 encounters during two years were analyzed to examine how changes in policy have effected taser use. Findings support that after the change, the frequency of taser use decreased, while the levels of suspect resistance increased. The frequency and severity of suspect injuries did not change and the number of officers injured was unchanged. Officers perceived an increased risk of harm to themselves as a result of the change, but this was not supported in the findings. Officers did not perceive an increased risk of harm to suspects, but this was supported.

Excerpt

The issue of police use of force remains a topic of intense debate that requires further research for criminal justice practitioners and scholars. Police officers are one of the most visible arms of government, and they are entrusted with substantial authority and discretion (Bittner, 1970; Fyfe, 1988). They are the only members of society legally authorized to take life or inflict serious injury to preserve order and enforce the law (Bittner, 1970; Reiss, 1971). The public’s perception of law enforcement’s ability to control crime while maintaining high levels of accountably and ethical standards is often framed around the use of force by police (Adams et al., 1999; GAO, 2005, Lersch and Mieczkowski, 2005; Terrill, 2005).

During the past few decades, several incidents of excessive use of police force have garnered local, national, and international media attention (Ready, White and Fisher, 2008). These incidents have cast police in a negative light and have altered the public’s perception of their use of force. Two notable examples include the 1991 Rodney King incident in Los Angeles and the 1999 shooting death of Amadou Diallo by New York City police officers (Belotto, 2001; Meyer, 1992). Both of these incidents galvanized public opinion on when and how much force law enforcement officers should use when encountering noncompliant or potentially violent suspects.

To address the public’s perception of excessive use of force by officers in non-deadly force confrontations, many police . . .

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