An NIJ-funded study looked at injuries to law enforcement officers and civilians during use-of-force events. Injury rates varied depending on the law enforcement agency. Civilian injury rates ranged from 17 to 64 percent, and officer injury rates ranged from 10 to 20 percent.
The researchers found that most applications of force were minimal, with officers using their hands, arms or bodies to push or pull against a suspect to gain control, and most injuries were minor and involved bruises, strains and abrasions. Major injuries included dog bites, broken bones and gunshot wounds.
The researchers also found that for some agencies in the study, using pepper spray and conducted energy devices (CEDs), such as Tasers, significantly reduced injuries to suspects and using CEDs reduced injuries to officers. However, the variation among agencies suggests that not every agency’s experience with pepper spray and CEDs will be the same.
Learn more about the study:
- Read a Research in Brief that the researchers wrote about the study.
- Read a related NIJ Journal article, “Police Use of Force: The Impact of Less-Lethal Weapons and Tactics,” by Philip Bulman.
About This Article
The research described in this article was funded by NIJ award 2005-IJ-CX-0056, awarded to the University of South Carolina.
This article is based on the grantee report "A Multi-Method Evaluation of Police Use of Force Outcomes" by Smith, Michael R., Robert J. Kaminski, Geoffrey P. Alpert, Lorie A. Fridell, John MacDonald, and Bruce Kubu.