The US 1977 Army report presented results of disparate studies on law enforcement weapons, along with a standard methodology for determining the safety characteristics and effectiveness of the three classes of non-lethal weaponry: electrical, chemical and kinetic energy (also referred to as blunt trauma). Moreover, a legal ruling made in 1980 restricting the use of lethal force by the police provided further impetus for research on non lethal weapons (Neil Davison, 2006).
The seeds for the maturation of the technological advancement used in law enforcement technology were planted in the 60s and the 70s. Looking at kinetic energy technology, impact projectiles, water cannons and bets were already in use at the time. Nets ware available but were not used. The Taser and ‘stun gun’/ ‘stun baton’ were in use and there were concrete proposals touching on the wireless electrical weapons in use today. Malodorants and sticky foams were elements of focus in various research and development departments while lubricants and aqueous foams were available, though not in use.
Smokes and irritants were the most famous chemical agents in use (Neil Davison, 2006). One of the new classes of law enforcement weapon technology, directed energy, covers microwave/radiofrequency and lasers (high power and low power). Research was underway at the time, focus attention geared towards the effect of laser beams on the human eye and the effect of radiation. This ran parallel to studies involving acoustic technology. The main elements in this branch are vortex generators, ultrasound/infrasound generators and audible sound generators.
The idea behind this class of technology was the production of unpleasant sounds at very high volumes in a bid to cause various physiological effects. The last of the newer classes, optical technology, encompasses the use of stroboscopic lights, high intensity light and the flash-bang grenade. The aim of the flashes is to blind individuals temporarily while stroboscopic lights induce physical symptoms like vomiting, disorientation as well as triggering photosensitive epileptic seizures. Other developments were frangible projectiles that contained water, intended to burst on impact (Neil Davison, 2006).
Tasers Taser, which is an acronym for “Thomas A Swift’s Electrical Rifle”, got its name from the fantasy stories of Tom Swift that were part of John Cover’s childhood. These hand-held devices deliver electrical impulses via a set of wires, propelled from a distance of up to 10. 6m. The jolt stuns targets by causing uncontrollable muscle-tissue contraction (EMDT, Electro-Muscular Disruption Technology) in combination with a voltage step-up mechanism (Barnes, 2009). Taser voltages may reach 50,000 volts, though the average impact on the human body registers 1,500 volts.
The associated voltage is extremely low, ranging between 0. 002 and 0. 03 amps. These devices are effective through layers of clothing fiv3-centimeters thick (CBC News, 2009). Targets are summarily immobilized, falling to the ground irrespective of mental focus or pain tolerance. The main models used in law enforcements are the M26 and X26. The M26 uses compressed nitrogen as the propulsion mechanism of two probes affixed to the Taser. These models also have lasers sights used for aiming. The X26 works on similar principle but it is a smaller model.
Models manufactured for personal use are the C2, the X26C (a variant of the X26) and the Advanced Taser M18/M18L (an offshoot of the M26). These personal models have a range of four-and-a-half meters, unlike law enforcement Tasers that have a 10. 6-meter range. Tasers do not fall under the class of firearms, making them available for civilian use in a number of states. This is in stark contrast to the situation in Canada, where these weapons are prohibited (CBC News, 2009). Tasers can be used as stun guns by simply pulling the trigger, then pressing the device’s prongs against a target.