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TASER Type Devices: Guidelines to Use of Force

The TASER type device (also known as an Electro-Muscular Disruption Device or EMDD) has received considerable news coverage over the last few years and most recently involving its deployment on a University of Florida student on campus several months ago. Much discussion has been generated as to when this type of weapon should be deployed by police and law enforcement personnel, and where it falls within the Use of Force Continuum.

Many police and law enforcement agencies authorize the use of the TASER type device at level three or four of the Use of Force Continuum. The key to deploying the Electro-Muscular Disruption Device is for the law enforcement or police officer to obtain compliance from the individual without having to use hard control techniques or impact weapons.

Soft hand control techniques (level three) consist of arm bar holds, come-along techniques, hand restrains, etc. Once an individual resists those attempts, as was the case with the University of Florida student, a police or law enforcement officer can utilize hard hand techniques or the EMDD TASER type device. Although the EMDD device causes temporary discomfort the behavior precipitating its use ceases and compliance is achieved.

Using hard hand controls or impact weapons (level four) is more intrusive to the individual and is not nearly as effective or efficient as using an EMDD. Hard hand controls and impact weapons can generate broken bones, lacerations, and contusions to both the law enforcement or police officer and the individual, whereby the EMDD device does not.

Fundamental to the deployment of any force by a police officer are the actions of the individual and cessation of such behavior. EMDDs can be used in an excessive manner when the number of “cycles” for delivering additional shocks goes beyond obtaining compliance and simply becomes a tool to inflict pain. Usually, if a person does not comply after a third five second “cycle” from the EMDD, police officers should consider using a different technique of force within that level of force being applied.

By AJS Consulting, Inc.
Police, Security and Law Enforcement Expert
Andrew J. Scott III is a police expert with almost 30 years of experience in use of force, police brutality and law enforcement matters. As Chief of Police for the City of Boca Raton, Florida, and Assistant Police Chief for North Miami Beach, Florida, Mr. Scott actively participated in crime prevention programs, an FBI anti-terrorism task force, multi-agency anti-gang efforts and police forensic committees. 

Copyright AJS Consulting, Inc.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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