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by Peter Moskos

August 17, 2010

Tasers equal fewer injuries

That's the result of a study by Bruce Taylor and Daniel J. Woods of PERF in Police Quarterly.

You can't read the whole article without a subscription, but here's the abstract (CED = taser, to you and me):
The Conducted Energy Device (CED) weapon holds the potential to reduce injuries for officers/suspects. However, the dearth of research on CEDs makes it difficult to make informed decisions about its deployment. We conducted a quasi experiment to compare 4 years of data from seven law enforcement agencies (LEAs) with CED deployment with six matched LEAs without CED deployment. Compared with non-CED sites, CED sites had lower rates of officer injuries, suspect severe injuries, and officers and suspects receiving injuries requiring medical attention. Our results suggest that CEDs can be effective in helping minimize physical struggles and resulting injuries in use-of-force cases.


Spark Check said...

These findings are not surprising.

PCM said...

And yet I *still* don't like tasers.

Maybe I'll come around...

Anonymous said...

There is somewhat more info here:


The injury percentages are injuries per use of force incident. One way to decrease these percentages is to decrease the number of injuries. The other way to decrease these percentages is to increase the number of use of force incidents and start using force in incidents where force was not previously used. To put it in simpler words, if policemen start tasering everybody who looks at them funny, then injury percentages (of the type used in the study) will go way down because police will be tasering lots of non-resistive subjects.

So, no, these findings are not surprising. Nor do they necessarily indicate that fewer people are injured (per police encounter) in Taser cities.

Marc said...

"and officers and suspects receiving injuries requiring medical attention"

Around here, at least, every taser deployment gets an ambulance. Also, due to protocols involving impaled objects, we're not allowed to remove the electrodes under most circumstances, so this generates a trip to the hospital.

I'm going to agree with anonomous' analysis.

Gotti Rules said...

Hey Pete,
I am a huge fan of tasers. I don't see why officers and suspects should have to risk a dangerous tussle when at the push of a button, everything can end. I can't help but feel that if I had a taser when I was a cop, that I would still be on the force today. Instead, I got injured and had to retire. The incident could have been stopped at the push of a button.

PCM said...

Gotti, but could imagine tweedle-dum with a taser? A shudder to think.

Johnny Law said...


You may not be a fan of tasers now but if you had been able to carry one when you were in uniform, I think you would feel differently.

There is a risk that officers start to use them as the magical solution to all confrontations but that can be helped by a solid use of force policy. For example, no tasing a handcuffed prisoner unless combative. No tasing a person for simply being non-compliant.

I'm not afraid to go hands on with someone but I figure this isn't a UFC match I don't need to fight fair. Any tool that makes my job safer is welcome.

Gotti Rules said...

No doubt tweedle-dum would have tased himself with a taser. However, I still think they are a safe and effective tool to use with suspects.

PCM said...

I've always thought tasers are good as alternatives to other uses of force. It's the taser as a compliance device I don't like. You were involved in far more than an issue non-compliance.

If there's a fight, damn right I agree with Johnny Law that police shouldn't fight fair. And a taser should be part of that fight. And I also agree the policy needs to somewhat strict (like in the way you say).

On an unrelated note, what's going to happen the first time a cop gets tased by a suspect and that video makes it to youtube? It hasn't happened yet. But it will. Mark my words.

Anonymous said...

Or when criminals start carrying them as a weapon of choice because they are not considered as deadly force when used against a policeman. Just a misdemeanor assault. Nothing serious.