Non Lethal Weapons:
A Controversial debate
Over the years, the issue concerning the use of non lethal force in Policing and the Criminal Justice system has been a very controversial and debated topic. These weapons used by the Police have saved a considerable amount of lives and have proven themselves as a useful tool in making the jobs of the police more effective and efficient. Non lethal weapons are designed to incapacitate people or disable equipment with effects that are only temporary and completely reversible. These weapons are meant to cause no permanent change to the person, whether that should be physically or mentally. The police have these weapons as an alternative to using lethal force, therefore decreasing the likelihood that someone would be shot and killed by an officer. Weapons such as the taser, teargas, and bean bag bullets help officers use force when needed without causing long term harm to the offender. These types of weapons are critical to law enforcement officers because they can effectively subdue a person that is a threat to not only the officer, but to the public without attempting to take them down and physically fight them and without having to use extreme force and potentially kill them. In crowd control situations, these weapons have the ability to prevent and stop riots, but they also have the ability to be misused and kill. Though the uses for these weapons appear important and effective, there have been multiple problems with police over using tasers and using them at times that others may deem unnecessary. Some consider these weapons life savers while others think of them as torture tools. In addition, incidents of misuse have placed a negative image on many of these weapons. The debate rages over whether or not it is a good thing that police have these weapons in their arsenals and if they should be able to use these on the public or not. There are pros and cons for both sides of this issue; the non lethality of these weapons, and how potentially dangerous they actually are, are constantly questioned.
The entire concept of non lethal weapons is based on minimizing civilian deaths in regards to policing. Police officers are repeatedly forced to respond appropriately to calls, make quick decisions, apply the techniques they have learned through training, and use the tools issued to them. In any case, the most desirable outcome for the officer as well as the public is for the incident to be over quickly resulting in no injuries. Non lethal weapons, or as some call them, less lethal weapons make this possible. With weapons such as the taser, it is now possible for police officers to totally incapacitate a person with out having to worry about them causing harm to the public or to officers. These weapons are saving lives and give other options to the police in situations were they could potentially use lethal force and kill. For example, if an officer is being approached by a man wielding a machete, and the officer is equipped with a taser, the officer now has another option on how to handle the situation. Instead of shooting the man when he refuses to drop the weapon and presents an immediate danger to the officer, the officer can use the taser and effectively incapacitate the offender, without ever using lethal force. Sgt. Allen Treadaway, the police union president of Birmingham, Alabama said that "there are so many instances where without the Tasers we would have had to escalate all the way up to using lethal force, our sidearms" (Wright). The taser can be attributed to saving the lives of people who would otherwise would have been shot and killed by the police.
With advances in technology, the officer is able to be further removed from danger while using non lethal force on an individual. Police have been using non lethal force for years, but as technology improves, the concern for the safety of the officer is making these weapons more efficient in taking down...