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Tasers and Media Relations

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 53 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2005 Pages: 20,22,24,25
Ed Buice
Date Published
January 2005
4 pages
This article discusses the importance of having a strategy for relating to the media at various stages of a department's use of tasers, so that the public receives accurate and positive information about the benefits of tasers for the public and the police.
Negative media stories on tasers come in cycles, depending on the attention given to incidents in which deaths or injuries are attributed to the use of tasers. Police agencies that are using or plan to use tasers must engage in pre-emptive planning that prepares the media to provide complete and accurate information on the police use of tasers, particularly when potentially negative incidents occur. Many of the media stories on tasers have either implied or directly stated that the police use of tasers has been the direct cause of deaths and severe injuries; however, there is no medical evidence that this is the case. Police agencies, in partnership with taser manufacturers, must provide the media with a body of information and research that equips the media to present an accurate portrayal of the specifications, risks, capabilities, and benefits of tasers in saving the lives of police officers and citizens. The provision of such information to local media should begin even prior to the purchasing of tasers, such that negative stories from elsewhere in the country do not impede the local acceptance of the police use of tasers. The media should not only receive complete information about the taser and its use, but also be invited to a demonstration of its immediate incapacitative effects as well as the rapid and full recovery of those hit with a taser.