April, 30th 2013
Criminal tactics and schemes have never stayed stagnant, as technology and information in society grows so too does the way crimes are committed. A simple grand theft auto twenty years ago may have been perpetrated with a smashed driver’s side window and some tinkering with wires under the dash. Today, however, this same grand theft auto may be performed by a very knowledgeable and dangerous criminal with access to high tech gadgets and an assault rifle after he had just robbed a convenience store down the block. Fortunately, America’s law enforcement is not lagging behind in keeping up with these lawbreakers and has made the same strides in advancement so that for every dangerous criminal there is an officer who can stop him. Every day officers put their lives on the line to keep the general public safe from harm, and these law enforcement officers are permitted to use the degree of force that is considered to be rationally necessary to achieve their lawful objectives and to overcome any unlawful resistance. Therefore, the government is responsible for providing these officers with the equipment that is reasonable and an effective means to incapacitate a resisting suspect in both close-contact and noncontact situations. At the same time an officer wants to look out for his own safety and those of the public, it is always better for everyone involved for the suspect to be taken into custody without needless death or injury to all parties involved. Throughout this research paper I will look into the non-lethal tactics employed by today’s modern law enforcement agencies, the equipment used in the field, and the pros and cons to these devices. (1)(4) During the course of a “normal” confrontation between a police officer and a suspect, the officer will approach the situation in general set of steps to try and avoid any unnecessary violence. The traditional first step is verbal persuasion (warning); the second is manual escort (hand on the shoulder or arm). If both are unsuccessful or unsuitable, the following step is “pain compliance”. Typical methods of pain compliance used include a wrist lock, arm bar or other "come-along" technique. It is only when submissive control methods are ineffective or inappropriate that the force applied intensifies to the use of non-lethal weapons. This is the intermediate step between hand-applied force and the definitive use of firearms. Non-lethal weapons, also often called less-lethal weapons, are weapons intended to be less likely to kill a living target than are conventional weapons. These weapons are created to subdue a target without killing. However, it is not uncommon for these weapons to cause accidental or unintended casualties; these are always risks whenever force is applied. The goal of non-lethal weapons is to try to minimize that risk as much as possible but nothing is ever 100% safe. Non-lethal weapons are used when combat is unavoidable to try and prevent the escalation of conflict where engagement with lethal force is undesirable, when attempting to minimize casualties, or where policy restricts the use of conventional force. Use of force, including non-deadly weapons, is nothing new to policing, and injury is always a high possibility when brute force is employed. Research has gone on to estimate that between fifteen and twenty percent of arrests involve use of force. A group of researchers led by Geoffrey P. Alpert, professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of South Carolina, recently completed an NIJ-funded study of injuries to officers and civilians during use-of-force incidents. Injury rates to civilians and suspects ranged from seventeen to sixty-four percent in use-of-force events, while in those same incidents injury rates to officers ranged from ten to twenty percent. Most of the injuries sustained involved minor bruises, strains and abrasions that normally occur during a scuffle....