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How Conducted Energy Devices Work

Date Published
June 22, 2008

Police officers and corrections officers use Conducted Energy Devices (CEDs), which are popularly known as stun guns, to subdue hostile or violent suspects. The devices give officers a less-lethal alternative to firearms.

CEDs, such as Tasers, generate 50,000 volts of electricity. The electricity stuns and temporarily incapacitates people by causing involuntary muscle contractions. This makes people easier to arrest or subdue. When CEDs cause involuntary muscle contractions, the contractions cause people to fall. Some people have experienced serious head injuries or bone fractures from the falls, and some of these injuries have resulted in deaths.

Tasers use compressed nitrogen to fire two barbed probes (which are sometimes called darts) at suspects. Electricity travels along thin wires attached to the probes. Darts may cause puncture wounds or burns. A puncture wound to the eye could cause blindness.

National Institute of Justice, "How Conducted Energy Devices Work," June 22, 2008, nij.ojp.gov:
Date Created: June 22, 2008