Police, Taser, Use-of Force, Organizational Policy Change, Less-than- Lethal


The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of organizational policy changes within the Use-of-Force Continuum on taser usage and officer's perceptions of taser effectiveness. Tasers have been used by police since the 1970s and their use is increasing as the technology has improved. Data reveals that tasers are beneficial for controlling non-compliant suspects while preventing serious injuries and rarely has their use resulted in death. Much of the public controversy surrounding tasers centers on when and how often officers deploy them. Use of force data from 890 police citizen encounters during a two-year period was analyzed to examine how changes in organizational policy have affected taser deployments and how policy changes have affected taser use. The study's findings support that after the policy change, the frequency of taser use by officers decreased, while the levels of suspect resistance encountered by officers increased. The frequency and severity of suspect injuries did not change and the numbers of officers injured in use-of-force encounters also did not change. Survey response data from officers were compared to archival data, which revealed that while officers perceive an increased risk of harm to themselves as a result of the organizational policy change that was not supported in the findings. Officers did not perceive an increased risk of harm to suspects which was supported in the archival data findings. Officers also expressed a belief that the organizational change that placed the taser at a higher level on the Use-of-Force Continuum is appropriate for most use-of-force encounters. This study concludes with future directions and trends for taser use in law enforcement.


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Graduation Date



Holmes, Stephen


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Health and Public Affairs


Criminal Justice and Legal Studies

Degree Program

Public Affairs








Release Date

June 2008

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Restricted to the UCF community until June 2008; it will then be open access.