Injuries from stun gun use measured

May 29, 2012 at 3:27 PM
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ORLANDO, Fla., May 29 (UPI) -- Use of stun guns by police increases the risk of injuries for those they're used against but tends to increase officer safety, a U.S. study found.

Researchers at the University of Central Florida analyzed nearly 14,000 incidents from seven law enforcement agencies, of which 2,600 incidents involved the use of stun guns, the university reported Tuesday.

Also known as conducted energy devices or CEDs, stun guns produce an electrical charge up to 50,000 volts when deployed by pressing the device against a person or by shooting two probed darts at a person from a distance, resulting in the temporary immobilization of the individual.

"The bottom line is there in an increased risk to citizens," Gene Paoline, a UCF associate professor of criminal justice, said.

"On the other hand, the devices increase the safety of officers when used as the sole method of restraint. In essence, we have to consider the costs of citizen harm versus benefits of officer safety."

Citizens were injured 41 percent of the time when CEDs were used as the only type of force and 47 percent of the time when CEDs were used in conjunction with another form of force, the researchers said.

"It is something for police agencies to weigh when setting up policies on their use, or whether or not to even use them at all," Paoline said. "CEDs may not be the silver bullet some make them out to be."

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