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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 220148 Find in a Library
Title: Excessive Force, Civil Liability, and the Taser in the Nation's Courts: Implications for Law Enforcement Policy and Practice
Journal: Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management  Volume:30  Issue:3  Dated:2007  Pages:398-422
Author(s): Michael R. Smith; Matthew Petrocelli; Charlie Scheer
Date Published: 2007
Page Count: 25
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: To help inform the ongoing policy and training debates over the use of the Taser and its proper role in the use of force continuum, this study qualitatively analyzed all reported court decisions as of January 2007 in which a Taser was used by a law enforcement officer.
Abstract: The proliferation of the Taser among United States law enforcement agencies gives line-level officers the ability to control violent or resistive suspects with seemingly little harmful effects. Further research on the medical implications of the Taser and its impact on injury rates to citizens and officers are currently underway and should provide a more definitive answer to questions concerning the safety and effectiveness of this less lethal device. In the meantime, United States Courts have issued 53 written opinions concerning the reasonableness of Taser usage in arrest situations. Most have approved of the police using the Taser to control resistant persons. Careful consideration of these opinions and their implications for policy and practice should allow agencies to limit their exposure to legal liability and to respond effectively to concerns about the Taser raised by members of their communities or outside interest groups. This analysis was confined to reported court decisions, which do not necessarily represent a random sample of all Taser-related lawsuits filed in the courts. The purpose of this study was to educate agencies about the breadth, scope, and success of civil litigation involving Taser use in a police setting and to identify how the litigation might affect them in the long run. Notes, references and appendix
Main Term(s): Tasers
Index Term(s): Judicial decisions; Judicial rulemaking; Less lethal technologies; Police legal limitations; Police weapons use
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