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Taser Policy That Works

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 56 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2008 Pages: 93-97
Jerry Staton
Date Published
March 2008
5 pages
This article critiques some TASER-use policies that have been proposed, deeming them to be unrealistic and/or ineffective, and outlines a general departmental policy for TASER deployment.
A three-pronged policy must be implemented in order to obtain maximum results from TASER deployment in terms of reducing injuries and deaths to officers and suspects. The first and most obvious departmental policy is to purchase TASERs in sufficient number to allow their widespread use by patrol officers. TASERs, when properly used, have been shown to reduce officer and suspect injuries and deaths. Second, there must be a comprehensive training program. Such training takes at least a full day for the first-time TASER user, and it should include reality-based scenarios. Training should include information on visible signs of excited delirium symptoms in a suspect prior to deploying a TASER against the suspect. Excited delirium symptoms have been linked to adverse reactions from a TASER, including death. Third, a departmental policy regarding officer TASER use should be sufficiently flexible to allow officers to use their discretion in using their TASER. An overly restrictive and unrealistic TASER policy will result in its minimal use, making it relatively useless in an officer's nonlethal arsenal. This article recommends deployment of the TASER on a use-of-force continuum similar to that of OC spray. Agencies that place the TASER near deadly force on the continuum have not experienced the same level of reduction in officer and suspect injuries and deaths from TASER use compared to departments that allow its use under more scenarios of suspect resistance and threat.