Washington, July 4 (ANI): A three-year study released by researchers at the University of South Carolina and funded by the US Department of Justice has determined that conducted electrical devices (CEDs), such as Tasers, limit injury to police officers and suspects if used properly.
The study, one of the largest epidemiological studies to look at injuries from police use of force, comes at a time when more than 10,000 US police agencies now use Tasers as one method to control suspects.
The study also provides valuable understanding of injuries that result from other less lethal devices, such as pepper spray and batons, as well as firearms.
According to Dr. Geoff Alpert, a criminal justice professor, said the study is particularly important for its findings on the use of pepper spray and CEDs, which have generated controversy and been linked to deaths, overuse and abuse.
"We found that the use of pepper spray and CEDs, such as Tasers, reduced the likelihood of injuries to both officers and assailants," said Dr. Alpert, principal investigator of the study.
Alpert said the study, which included the review of 24,000 cases as well as national data, provides a much-needed picture of police use of force in America.
The team's findings were based on data from a national survey of law enforcement policies and practices on use of force and statistics from law enforcement agencies in Miami, Florida, Seattle, Washington, Columbia, South Carolina, Austin, Texas and Orlando.
They also interviewed more than 250 officers and citizens.
Their data provide valuable insights on police use of force before and after the use of CEDs.
Alpert said that questions about the safety and misuse of Tasers mirror concerns raised in the 1990s when pepper spray became a popular method used by law enforcement.
"Pepper spray was the 'new' less lethal weapon. Now it's the Taser, and, if used properly, it can be a great tool," Alpert said. "Often just seeing the laser dot of a CED on them will stop an assailant," he added.
The study looked at reported cases of death associated with the use of CED. While low in rate, a few resulted from excessive rounds of CED use.
Excessive use and the potential for abuse was the second key finding of the university study.
Alpert said good CED policies and training, monitoring and systems for accountability can remedy and discourage such abuse. (ANI)