The Taser in Academia

I recently rode along with Swift Sanchez, a Suquamish Police Officer who is finishing up a master’s degree in criminal justice.

Sanchez wrote her thesis on “The Acquisition and Use of Electro-Muscular Disruption Technology and its Introduction into the Police Use of Force Continuum.”

In layman’s terms, the Taser.

I’ve written much about the weapon on this blog. But in Sanchez’s paper, she talks about the need for “best practices” in the Taser’s use. Basically, what are the situations in which it will best quell a potentially violent encounter?

She calls the weapon a “bridge” between “soft hands” techniques — basically going physical with a subject — and lethal force options, i.e. an officer’s sidearm.

I have posted the abstract to her paper below. Enjoy!


“The Acquisition and Use of Electro-Muscular Disruption Technology and its Introduction into the Police Use of Force Continuum.”

By Swift Sanchez, Suquamish Police Officer

Since it’s introduction into law enforcement in 1993, no “less-lethal” weapon has caused such heated debate as Electro-Muscular Disruption Technology, otherwise known as the “Taser”.

The Taser is an Electro-Muscular Disruption technology tool that is designed to induce involuntary muscle contractions causing temporary incapacitation. Before the introduction of Tasers, there were often no other options to bridge the gap between “soft-hands” techniques such as pain compliance holds and strikes; and deadly force options such as a firearm.

Typically, all Use of Force options available before Tasers were dependent solely on pain compliance when often, in cases where the suspect was mentally disabled or impaired by narcotics or alcohol, pain was not a motivating factor in attempting to control or restrain them. Often, taking these subjects into custody involved injury to them and to the officers. Tasers however, rely on involuntary muscle contractions causing temporary incapacitation or “paralyzation” for short periods of time, usually five seconds for most models. Therefore, compliance is no longer dependent on pain, but on a safe, effective method of muscular disruption. This is achieved by offering a less-lethal choice that can be deployed from a safe distance as opposed to the “up close and personal” Use of Force options of yesteryear.

This is why it became so important to focus on the quick and effective introduction, deployment, training and evaluation of the Taser into today’s Police Use of Force Continuums as it quickly became a commonly used option for incapacitating subjects with low risk of injury to both suspects and officers.

One thought on “The Taser in Academia

  1. Officer Swift Sanchez is right. Training is the key to using the taser for the best conclusion. Training and education.

    And…any Officer so rattled as to mistake a gun for a taser and fire at the suspect should be immediately fired or taken out of the field and given a filing office job. Such an officer is a danger to the public AND other officers.

    I think the taser used to be called a ‘stun gun’ and only worked by touching the prongs to the person.

    I once saw a person demonstrate how some folks could use mind control to avoid being impacted by the stun gun. I watched in amazement as several officers touched him time after time with their stun guns and he didn’t flinch.

    I was awed … until he pulled up his left trouser leg to reveal a wooden leg.

    Sharon O’Hara

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