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Crime and War: An Analysis of Non-lethal Technologies and Weapons Development

NCJ Number
Police Chief Volume: 65 Issue: 6 Dated: June 1998 Pages: 55-56-61
Date Published
6 pages

The Department of Defense (DOD) and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) are both conducting research and development on non-lethal technologies and weapons; NIJ defines non-lethal as something that can never cause death and distinguishes between non-lethal and less-than-lethal, whereas DOD considers non-lethality as a goal rather than a promise.


NIJ's program includes contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements with government and private industry to develop new technologies specifically for State and local police. Projects have focused on a device to administer chemical incapacitants, various types of projectiles, a barrier strip to stop fleeing vehicles, and a smart gun. DOD seeks weapons with rheostatic capacities in that their lethality can be tuned up or down. Projects include a 40mm non-lethal round for crowd dispersal, a vehicle launched payload such as a flash-bang or stingball, a handheld device to stop vehicles, a non-lethal land mine to prevent access to specific areas, and foams that could be used for area denial. An adjunct to DOD's non-lethal program is its study of biophysical effects of internal and external stimuli on humans. Developers who work on law enforcement technology work closely with practitioners to understand their needs. Law enforcement's requirements are more flexible than are those of DOD. Together, DOD and NIJ could make a formidable research and development team.

Date Published: January 1, 1998