Research Reports



The independent study, sponsored by the not-for-profit public policy research institute analyzed issues related to stun devices brought together experts in medical, industry, policy, military, and law enforcement fields. The report concluded that while further medical testing should continue, when used appropriately, stun technology is relatively safe and clearly effective. Based on the available evidence, and on accepted criteria for defining product risk vs. efficacy, we believe that when stun technology is appropriately applied, it is relatively safe and clearly effective. The only known field data that are available suggest that the odds are, at worst, one in one thousand that a stun device would contribute to (and this does not imply “cause”) death. This figure is likely not different than the odds of death when stun devices are not used, but when other multiple force measures are. A more defensible figure is one in one hundred thousand.


The Effect of Less-Lethal Weapons on Injuries in Police Use-of-Force Events
Objectives. We investigated the effect of the use of less-lethal weapons, conductive energy devices (CEDs), and oleoresin capsicum (OC) spray on the prevalence and incidence of injuries to police officers and civilians in encounters involving the use of force.

Methods. We analyzed data from 12 police departments that documented injuries to officers and civilians in 24 380 cases. We examined monthly injury rates for 2 police departments before and after their adoption of CEDs.

Results. Odds of injury to civilians and officers were significantly lower when police used CED weapons, after control for differences in case attributes and departmental policies restricting use of these weapons. Monthly incidence of injury in 2 police departments declined significantly, by 25% to 62%, after adoption of CED devices.

Conclusions. Injuries sustained during police use-of-force events affect thousands of police officers and civilians in the United States each year. Incidence of these injuries can be reduced dramatically when law enforcement agencies responsibly employ less-lethal weapons in lieu of physical force.

John M. MacDonald, PhD, Robert J. Kaminski, PhD, and Michael R. Smith, JD, PhD


USE OF TASERS™ BY LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES: An AMA report finds that tasers™, when used appropriately, can save lives during interventions that would have otherwise involved the use of deadly force.
“While tasers™ can help law enforcement officers, proper use must be ensured through specific guidelines, rigorous training and an accountability system,” said AMA Board Member Joseph Annis, M.D. “There should also be a standardized approach to the medical evaluation of subjects exposed to tasers™.”

Lisa Lecas AMA Media Relations


Emergency Department Evaluation After Conducted Energy Weapon Use

Positive reports for “Arc Angel®” type CEWs . The current human literature has not found evidence of dangerous laboratory abnormalities, physiologic changes, or immediate or delayed cardiac ischemia or dysrhythmias after exposure to CEW electrical discharges of up to 15 s. Therefore, the current medical literature does not support routine performance of laboratory studies, ECGs, or prolonged ED observation or hospitalization for ongoing cardiac monitoring after CEW exposure in an otherwise asymptomatic awake and alert patient.

Note the negatives associated with the “Taser™ “Probes…The other technique is the “probe mode,” which uses two sharp metal darts that are shot from a distance into the subject or the subject’s clothing, causing energy to arc a greater distance across the two probes. If there is enough of a probe spread, generalized muscle contraction, sometimes termed “neuromuscular incapacitation,” is produced. This may result in the subject falling if he or she is in a standing position. There are case reports of injuries sustained directly from the darts, such as ocular, skull, or genital penetration.[21,22] Other case reports of spinal compression fractures, presumably from intense muscle contractions of the back musculature in subjects with osteopenia, have been documented.[23,24] There are no studies demonstrating the effects on pregnant women, so physicians will need to make clinical decisions on the need for fetal assessment and monitoring based on the type of CEW use, location, and patient presentation.

Gary M. Vilke, MD, William P. Bozeman, MD, Theodore C. Chan, MD


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