The impact of TASERs on police use-of-force decisions: Findings from a randomized field-training experiment

William Sousa, Justin Ready, Michael Ault

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper presents findings from a randomized field-training experiment designed to study the impact TASERs on police officers' use-of-force decisions. Officers were randomly assigned to either a treatment group (with TASERs) or a control group (without TASERs) and then participated in training scenarios involving different levels of suspect resistance. The study investigates whether and to what extent officers armed with the TASER use it as an alternative to other types of less-lethal force (e.g., empty hands, pepper spray, and the baton) and the firearm, controlling for the level of suspect resistance. The findings indicate that officers who were armed with the TASER were significantly less likely to deploy pepper spray and the baton in response to aggressive physical resistance. Additionally, the results show that officers equipped with the TASER were less likely to discharge their firearm when confronted with suspect resistance that was potentially lethal. No differences in police behavior occurred in response to passive suspect resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-55
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Experimental Criminology
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2010

Keywords

  • Less-lethal force
  • TASER
  • Use-of-force

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law

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