The “Less-Than-Lethal Weapons Effect”—Introducing TASERs to Routine Police Operations in England and Wales: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Barak Ariel*, David Lawes, Cristobal Weinborn, Ron Henry, Kevin Chen, Hagit Brants Sabo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

We used a randomized controlled trial to test the effect of mass deployment of TASERs on policing. The findings show that the presence of a TASER is causally linked to statistically significant increases in the use of force more generally—a 48% higher incidence during treatment conditions for TASER-equipped officers, a 19% higher incidence for non-TASER-equipped officers, and a 23% higher rate force wide, compared to control conditions. Assaults of officers doubled. However, there were fewer complaints during treatment compared to control conditions (five versus nine complaints). We conclude that, as is the case with other types of weapons, the presence of TASERs leads to increased aggression. The visual cue of a TASER in police–public interactions leads to aggression. Given other benefits of TASERs for policing identified by previous studies, our findings suggest that both enhanced training as well as concealment of TASERS should be considered.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)280-300
Number of pages21
JournalCriminal Justice and Behavior
Volume46
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology.

Keywords

  • GAM
  • TASER
  • aggression
  • assault
  • general aggression model
  • hostility
  • less-than-lethal weapons
  • officer injury
  • weapons effect

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