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Less Than Lethal Force Technologies in Law Enforcement and Correctional Agencies

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1994
155 pages
This study examined the extent to which less-than-lethal (LTL) weapons have been acquired and used by law enforcement and correctional agencies, the legal issues related to their use, and policies and procedures that control their deployment.
To achieve these aims, the study conducted the following activities: a survey of law enforcement and correctional agencies, case studies of selected agencies, a review of legal issues, and a review of use-of-force policies. The study concludes that over the last 20 years, the variety of LTL weapons has increased substantially. Researchers classified LTL weapons into four categories: impact weapons, chemical weapons, electrical weapons, and other LTL weapons. Descriptions are provided of the primary weapons within each of these categories. The survey of police and sheriffs departments yielded an assessment of the effectiveness of various LTL weapons. Side- handle and telescoping batons were found to be more effective than conventional batons or flashlights; OC sprays are more effective than CN or CS sprays; and projectile weapons and stunning devices have high averages for subduing suspects, citizen complaints, and officer safety, but lower scores than most other weapons for public safety. The single most important legal issue for law enforcement and correctional administrators, as well as public managers, continues to be liability for the misuse of LTL weapons. As part of the study, use-of-force policies were reviewed for 96 police and sheriffs departments. The study concludes that improvements are still needed in LTL weapon technology. A new technology should serve a real need, improve on current practice, not overburden the officer, not be prohibitively expensive, not require extensive training, not involve dedicated manpower, and involve manageable liability issues. The report provides guidance on limiting liability from LTL use, suggests improvements in policies and procedures, and recommends the development of a national database on excessive force. Extensive exhibits and appended information resources and the International Association of Chiefs of Police Use of Force Model Policy

Date Published: January 1, 1994