Emerging domestic and international threats have generated a growing interest in the use of less-than-lethal weapons by government and law enforcement agencies and other entities such as commercial airlines. One such weapon--the Taser--is a hand-held weapon that delivers an electric shock via two stainless steel barbs, effectively incapacitating an individual. According to the manufacturer--Taser International, Incorporated (Taser International)--Tasers are currently used by over 7,000 of the 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States, with more than 140,000 Tasers in use by police officers in the field and an additional 100,000 Tasers owned by civilians worldwide. Tasers have been used on over 100,000 volunteers, including individuals involved in training seminars and research experiments, and involved in over 70,000 actual field uses during police encounters. In light of the expanding interest in the Taser, GAO was asked to provide information on (1) the policies and procedures related to the issues of "use-of-force," training, operations, and safety for selected law enforcement agencies that have purchased and used Tasers and (2) federal, state, and local laws that specifically address Tasers, including the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) authority to regulate Tasers on aircraft.
Skip to Highlights