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Effect of Less-Lethal Weapons on Injuries in Police Use-of-Force Events

NCJ Number
American Journal of Public Health Volume: 99 Issue: 12 Dated: December 2009 Pages: 2268-2274
Date Published
December 2009
7 pages

The study investigated the effect that the use of less-lethal weapons had on the prevalence and incidence of injuries to police officers during police use-of-force events.


This study on the effect of use of less-lethal weapons on the prevalence and incidence of injuries to police during use-of-force events found that the use of OC (oleoresin capsicum) sprays and CEDs (conducted energy devices) reduced the odds of suspect injury by 69 percent and 65 percent, respectively, after control for all other factors. In addition, the study found that the odds of officer injury increased slightly if the officer used an OC spray, while no relationship was found between the use of a CED and an officer's increased risk of injury. The study also measured the monthly incidence of officer and suspect injury in two police departments and found that use of CEDs during use-of-force events decreased odds of injury by 25 percent. Data for the study were obtained from 12 police departments that provided electronically available records on 24,380 police use-of-force incidents for which injuries to suspects and officers were recorded. The records covered the period 1998 through 2007. Two sets of analyses, cross-sectional and time-series, were conducted to measure the effect that use of OC sprays and CEDs had on rates of injury to suspects and officers. Analysis of the findings indicates that use of less-lethal weapons during police use-of-force events can significantly reduce the risk of injury to both suspects and police officers. Study limitations are discussed. Tables, figure, and references

Date Published: December 1, 2009