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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 222255 Find in a Library
Title: Shock Value: A Comparative Analysis of News Reports and Official Police Records on TASER Deployments
Journal: Policing  Volume:31  Issue:1  Dated:2008  Pages:148-170
Author(s): Justin Ready; Michael D. White; Christopher Fisher
Date Published: 2008
Page Count: 23
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study compared news reports on the circumstances of Taser use by police officers with official police records of Taser deployments by officers of the New York Police Department (NYPD) from 2002 to 2005.
Abstract: The findings show consistencies across news media and NYPD records regarding many suspect and incident characteristics, as well as in the predictors of suspect resistance and repeated use of the Taser. Regarding the three main controversies surrounding police use of the Taser--i.e., its appropriate use, effectiveness, and the risk of suspect death--there was partial support for the view that news reports tend to exaggerate the inability of the Taser to reduce suspect resistance, while there was significant evidence that news reports overrepresent suspect deaths due to Taser use compared to NYPD records of such deaths. Of the 353 news reports examined in the study, the suspect died in 31.8 percent of the national news reports and 68.8 percent of the regional news reports. NYPD records, on the other hand, show that less than 1 percent of suspects died after being Tasered. Although these findings are preliminary and involve only one police department, they reflect favorably on police practices in Taser use. NYPD records indicate that in deploying the Taser, officers had a reasonable need to respond to a resisting suspect with additional force, thus reducing resistance without significant risk of harm or death to the suspect. The study conducted content analysis of all LexisNexis and New York Times articles pertaining to the police use of the Taser during the study period (n=353). Regional (New York Times) and national (LexisNexis) news reports that described police use of the Taser were compared with police reports of all Taser deployments by the NYPD during the same time frame (n=375). 4 tables, 20 notes, and 46 references
Main Term(s): Police policies and procedures
Index Term(s): Comparative analysis; Media coverage; New York; Police records; Police statistics; Tasers
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