skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 220146 Find in a Library
Title: Less Lethal Weapons: A Technologist's Perspective
Journal: Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management  Volume:30  Issue:3  Dated:2007  Pages:358-384
Author(s): Raymond L. Downs
Date Published: 2007
Page Count: 27
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper provides a comprehensive picture of the wide range of technical, operational, and management issues that must be considered when developing, acquiring, or using less lethal weapons for law enforcement agencies.
Abstract: The descriptions of the range of less lethal weapons currently available and those in the prototype or planning stages should, in combination with the perspectives presented on incapacitation phenomena, less lethal weapon requirements, and guiding principles, enhance the knowledge and appreciation to the challenges and complexities of these public safety tools. It must be remembered that they are only tools. Less lethal weapons are never a substitute for good officer training and personal judgment, well designed agency policies and procedures, and responsible professional law enforcement or corrections agency leadership. Law enforcement and correctional officers use less lethal weapons to temporarily incapacitate, confuse, delay, or restrain assaultive or noncompliant individuals or crowds in a variety of confrontational scenarios. Generally, these weapons are meant to provide alternatives to hands-on techniques or batons when a decision to use force has been made and the subject or crowd is unarmed. Over-confidence of less lethal weapon capabilities has put officers’ lives at risk when they are used as a substitute for deadly force when the latter is indeed the appropriate response. To provide a comprehensive picture of the wide range of technical, operational, and management issues that must be considered when developing, acquiring, or using less lethal weapons, this paper begins by considering all the ways that less lethal weapons can potentially impact human physiology to prevent or reduce the level of threatening behavior. It describes and reviews the various types of weapons in current use, as well as those under development and testing. The paper concludes with a list of general principles and requirements that the author believes must be considered to develop or deploy a successful less lethal weapon. References
Main Term(s): Less lethal technologies
Index Term(s): Police management; Police policies and procedures; Police procedures training; Police weapons; Police weapons use; Technical evolution
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.