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Less-Lethal Technology: Conducted Energy Devices

Date Published
June 14, 2011

Law enforcement officers often use conducted energy devices (CEDs) to get noncompliant or hostile suspects to comply. CEDs, such as Tasers, induce involuntary muscle contractions, causing the suspect to be temporarily incapacitated.

CEDs are controversial because of safety concerns. The concerns are not solely with the technology itself but with the policies and training for using the devices. Clearly defined policies and thorough training is needed to ensure that any use-of-force technique is used only when necessary to protect officers, suspects and bystanders.

When CEDs are properly used as an alternative to deadly force, they can help reduce injuries to officers and suspects alike.

In a study that compared seven law enforcement agencies that use CEDs with six agencies that do not, researchers found:

  • A 70-percent decrease in officer injuries associated with the use of CEDs. During the two years before CEDs were used, 13 percent of the officers involved in use-of-force incidents required medical attention. When CEDS were deployed, the percentage requiring medical attention declined to 8 percent.
  • A 40-percent decrease in suspect injuries associated with the use of conducted-energy devices. During the two years before the agencies began using CEDs, 55 percent of the suspects required medical attention, while 40 percent required medical attention after the agencies started using the devices.

About This Article

The research described in this article was funded by NIJ award 2006-IJ-CX-0028, awarded to Police Executive Research Forum. This article is based on the grantee report "Comparing Safety Outcomes in Police Use-of-Force Cases for Law Enforcement Agencies That Have Deployed Conducted Energy Devices and a Matched Comparison Group That Have Not: A Quasi-Experimental Evaluation: (pdf, 101 pages).

Date Published: June 14, 2011