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Impact of TASERs on Police Use-of-Force Decisions: Findings From a Randomized Field-Training Experiment

NCJ Number
Journal of Experimental Criminology Volume: 6 Issue: 1 Dated: March 2010 Pages: 35-55
William Sousa; Justin Ready; Michael Ault
Date Published
March 2010
21 pages
This study examined the impact on police officers' use-of-force decisions during field-training exercises when equipped with TASERs.
This paper presents findings from a randomized field-training experiment designed to study the impact TASERs on police officers' use-of-force decisions. Officers were randomly assigned to either a treatment group (with TASERs) or a control group (without TASERs) and then participated in training scenarios involving different levels of suspect resistance. The study investigates whether and to what extent officers armed with the TASER use it as an alternative to other types of less-lethal force (e.g., empty hands, pepper spray, and the baton) and the firearm, controlling for the level of suspect resistance. The findings indicate that officers who were armed with the TASER were significantly less likely to deploy pepper spray and the baton in response to aggressive physical resistance. Additionally, the results show that officers equipped with the TASER were less likely to discharge their firearm when confronted with suspect resistance that was potentially lethal. No differences in police behavior occurred in response to passive suspect resistance. Tables, appendix, and references (Published Abstract)