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Less-Than-Lethal Weapons: New Solutions for Law Enforcement

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2000
9 pages
This report discusses the search for less-than-lethal (LTL) weapons for United States police organizations.
The National Institute of Justice’s Science and Technology Division has devised an LTL strategy to develop new technologies that will improve police productivity and give them alternative capabilities. Any devices or ideas must improve on a present practice; must not overburden the officer; must be inexpensive; cannot require extensive training; cannot require dedicated manpower; and any liability issues must be manageable. Development of current projects is expected to take at least 3 to 5 years. However, several have shown great promise as being LTL and nonlethal devices for law enforcement: (1) Restraint Devices (patrol car airbags, sticky foam, chemical incapacitants); (2) Distraction and Disorientation Devices (lights, lasers, pepper spray, magnetophosphene guns, thermal guns); (3) Vehicle Interdiction; and (4) Crowd Control. Military technology that may be transferable to law enforcement includes miniaturized video/sound communications systems carried in an officer’s helmet or uniform; an over-and-under weapon that would have an LTL round in one chamber and a lethal round in the other; magnetic tagging devices that could be attached to a vehicle, enabling an officer to track the suspect vehicle electronically; and an individual officer locator.

Date Published: February 1, 2000