Publication Date

Spring 4-22-2016


Helms School of Government


Criminal Justice


Less, lethal, weapons, baton, pepper, spray, OC, mental, illness, TASER, police, department, effectiveness, lethality, officer, safety, non-lethal, law, enforcement, CEW


Law Enforcement and Corrections


Less-lethal weapons have been effective at saving lives by providing police an option for defense or apprehension that does not involve a firearm. However, not all less-lethal weapons are created equal, and careful planning with a solid base of research must be done to insure that officers are prepared for every circumstance. The purpose of this study is to analyze the current information about less-lethal weapons and create a comprehensive breakdown of their strengths and weaknesses. This will include current statistics on the most common less-lethal weapons, as well as insight from scholarly sources. The strengths and weaknesses of a less-lethal weapon can be analyzed with the categories of lethality, or how often the weapon kills or seriously injures, and how often it is effective at ending an altercation. Each weapon will be examined in light of these categories, as well as any other merits or demerits that may arise. In addition, this study showcases how police can be trained, emphasizing either citizen safety or officer safety, and offers suggestions to implement in the future. Ideally this study can be used as a tool for law enforcement agencies and officers to be better equipped for their profession.