The use of a weapon in law enforcement differs from those found in the military. While weapons are typically weaponized by entering an attacker’s body, different types of weapons are issued for different missions, such as officers aiming firearms at targets.
Tactical handcuffs, used in London for vehicle stop and stop-and-search situations, use handcuffs which are designed for use by police officers and civilians in that class.
In comparison, a Taser is a non-lethal weapon used by police to control suspects with an electric pulse. However, a Taser can only be fired in the event that the suspect escapes or if the suspect “poses an imminent risk of death or serious injury,” according to the CDC.
Why is there this difference?
There are several reasons officers may choose a Taser instead of a firearm for arrest and police-related incidents.
For one, Tasers can be used from a distance, generally about six feet. That puts the officer at a significant disadvantage when compared to a firearm, where the weapon is able to penetrate nearly any kind of body.
Since deploying a firearm requires more planning and often more skill, a Taser may be better for the officers involved.
Tasers also face less risk of accidental activation, according to the CDC. This is because the electricity in a Taser is used to create a powerful current that can pass through almost anything, according to the US Department of Justice.
And because Tasers usually do not require the use of a trigger pull, they are also less likely to be shot accidentally.
What are the advantages of a Taser?
Aside from being able to fire far closer than an officer would with a firearm, a Taser has several other advantages, according to police technology experts.
First, Tasers have limited recoil. Many tactical handcuffs suffer from an opposite effect, as the handcuffs used to restrain suspects in vehicle stops and stop-and-search situations can cause them to twist on themselves.
That, coupled with the fact that firearms often require the officer to hold the weapon in a specific position, makes them less than effective for getting the target into custody in a focused manner.
Tasers also produce less noise than a firearm, which can help calm a situation down more quickly, according to the CDC. This makes it less threatening for the people who would be subject to the Taser’s discharge.
What are the drawbacks?
While Tasers don’t need a trigger pull, they can still be fatal.
Twenty-one people have died of accidental Taser incidents in the US since 2000, according to data from the New York Times. Twenty-five more bystanders have died from accidental Taser incidents, with one incident occurring in Ireland.
The damage can cause severe injuries to anyone who is injured or electrocuted by the electrical current in a Taser’s trigger. While it is not possible to always eliminate the risk of accidental Taser injury, it can be substantially reduced through the use of a long-lasting taser, according to the CDC.
Additionally, the price of Tasers can have a significant impact on what role they play in police-related actions. While other kinds of weaponry are priced in the hundreds of dollars, a single Taser can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000.
So where is the Taser used the most?
Over the last two years, more than 1,100 Tasers have been issued to officers of the Los Angeles Police Department, according to officials.
Not only is the Taser often the most commonly used tool in police departments, it also boasts a large fan base. The Taser shoots approximately eight darts per cartridge, containing an ionizing radiation. Each dart contains enough energy to burn the skin of the skin or surrounding tissues, the EPA says.
And while other types of weapons can also cause skin damage when fired, even some forms of paintball have a five-fold difference in which kind of damage gets done to body tissue, according to the CDC.