This report presents the proceedings of a "community acceptance panel" convened by the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to provide input on new NIJ research and development related to safer, more effective use-of-force options for law enforcement officers.
The panel convened a broad representation of community members and practitioners from the medical, research, legal, and ethical communities. Currently, the law enforcement community is using electro-muscular disruption (EMD) devices as the most viable and less-lethal option for countering hostile threats; however, there have been just over 200 incidents of death associated with the use of EMDs, although a high percentage of those cases were determined not to be due to the EMD. Research is currently being conducted on the cause of these deaths and how to foresee risk or counteract adverse results from an EMD. Panel participants discussed chemical options, the risk factors associated with their use, potential delivery mechanisms, the empirical studies available from the relevant community, and legal and ethical issues. Much of the discussion related to data in a Pennsylvania State University study issued in 2001, which is entitled, "The Advantages and Limitations of Calmatives for Use as a Non-Lethal Technique." The entire panel supported research as the first step in determining the appropriate chemical/sedative that would have a calming and safe effect that could counter violent behavior. Other issues to be researched are the appropriate dosage, methods of delivery, the training needed to administer the drug, and how the calmative effect on the target may also affect others in the immediate area where the drug is dispensed. Panelists are listed.