Analysis of the Effectiveness of the Use of Electronic Stun Devices by Police Officers

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In order to reduce the instances of death from assault by firearms, the electronic stun devices have been developed which causes trauma and eases the efforts of the police officers to nab the assailant effortlessly. In light of this statement, the discussion in this essay shall be focusing upon the hypothesis that police use of electronic stun devices are said to be a benefit to both police and public safety in arresting violent offenders. This research essay aims to falsify the chosen hypothesis by discussing and analyzing issues related to the police use of electronic stun devices against the backdrop of the Colonial Policing Theory and Broken Window Theory.

Functioning of the Electronic Stun Devices

There are several types of Electronic Stun Devices based upon the method they use to incapacitate the assailant and the distance range between be assailant and the individual putting up the defence. The electronic stun devices are widely circulated in the market with police personnel and civilians being the consumers. Usually the ones used by the civilians generate low voltage power while the ones which are used by the law enforcement authority generates a high voltage current which is potent enough to render the assailant incapable of movement or any action for some time which shall be enough the cop to physically detain and take into custody (Bergman and Glickman, 2017).

As it has already been mentioned that the electronic stun devices are non-lethal weapons which can be used by the police to nab an assailant without much application of physical force, they are thus used by the personnel belonging to the law enforcement authority. At the most, the impact that is caused by the usage of stun devices is that they cause a loss of the balance on part of the assailant, loss of control over the movement of the muscle, temporary mental retardation, disorientation with regard to the future course of action and nauseous feeling which shall be making the assailant physically incapable of any daring act. The basic intention behind the usage of the electronic stun devices is to ensure that the assailant could be arrested without any bloody injury or fatal armed assault to the body of the assailant and to arrest him or her. The attack by stun devices causes a temporary but quite traumatic impact on the body of the assailant and during that period, it is possible for the law enforcement authority to capture him or her as long as he or she is recuperating from pain (Sarre and Prenzler 2018).

Usually, there are three type of methods in which the electronic stun devices work, indirect discharge of static electricity into the body of the target from at a distance, direct discharge of static electricity into the body of the target from at a distance and discharge of static electricity into the body of the target by conducting it through fluid. Electronic Stun Devices are generally known by different names, but their function is the same and that is to render the victim incapable of much physical resistance to arrest. The electronic stun devices are protruding a metal prong on the pressing of the trigger which is made to come in close contact with the body of the assailant and conduct the static electric current. The devices which cause an impact on the body of the assailant from a distance as far as 15 to 30 meters are called taser guns. The cops also use electric water cannons to discharge the electric current into the body of the assailant, however, they are not much popular and is used to disperse masses instead of individual cases (Bergman and Glickman, 2017).

Advantages of using Electronic Stun Devices

The most generic and the most obvious advantage of the use of Electronic Stun Devices is that they help prevent the death of the assailant and it aims at just paralyzing the captive before capturing him or her. The aim is to reduce the level of physical confrontation between the law enforcement authority and the assailant. This is an effective way of taking assailants unwilling to surrender into custody without resorting to the use of any firearms which can cause grave physical injury and blood loss. Hence the usage of stun devices for restraining miscreants or for taking assailants into custody is deemed to be better alternatives than firearms since they cause pain to the body, but they are not lethal (Bergman and Glickman, 2017).

These kinds of devices are thus quite beneficial in nabbing assailants that are quite aggressive and have gone beyond the range of hold of the police. Stun Devices are capable of attacking the target from at a distance and that is quite beneficial since it paralyzes the miscreant or the assailant utilizing cutting down on the physical exertion on part of the law enforcement personnel. Moreover, the recuperation from the pain that is caused by the assault of the Electronic Stun Devices is also not a major thing as the victim of the attack from such devices tend to recuperate quickly given the nature of injury being temporary (Sarre and Prenzler 2018).

The kind of current that is used in the Electronic Stun Devices is static electricity and naturally, that is not lethal by nature. It causes momentary twitching of the muscles and pain, but they are not at all lethal. Static electricity is unlike alternating current does not cause effects like burns and as such an external sign of trauma is not long-lasting at all. At the most the attack with Electronic Stun Devices causes redness but that is temporary nature. The current discharge is quite effective, and they are devised to even penetrate layers of clothing and cause impact to the body of the assailant (Bergman and Glickman, 2017).

Hence, it is very much apparent why stun devices are widely used by law enforcement personnel. They are non-lethal, causes quickly reversible traumatic impact, effective from a distance and technologically highly sophisticated to penetrate bad conductors.

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Disadvantages of using Electronic Stun Devices

The Electronic Stun Devices also have quite a lot of disadvantages and they are so grave that they tend to outshine its highly limited advantages, excepting the fact that they do not cause, do not cause grave injury, and is quite technologically advanced to even outdo the barriers that can neutralize the effect of electric current. To say that the Electronic Stun Devices don’t cause death is not true as it is contingent upon the number of times the assault is perpetrated upon the assailant. Several instances have been reported whereby there has been misuse of such Electronic Stun Devices by the police. Abuse and arbitrary use of weapons is something which has not reduced, the only difference is that the weapons have been or at least be replaced by firearms (Weill and Haney 2017).

Just because the Electronic Stun Devices non-lethal by nature that however does not mean that it is not capable of being abused, rather cases of assault by Electronic Stun Devices has been more than gun violence perpetrated by the police personnel as per the reports. In Australia, for example, in the region of Western Australia, several incidents have been reported whereby the police officers have attacked the civilians with the Electronic Stun Devices and for petty crimes which could have been waived off simply using a warning or a fine. There have also been incidents whereby the police officers have attacked with an Electronic Stun Devices even before approaching verbally to the offender when on the contrary the police officers are supposed to first approach the perceived offender first, provide them a verbal intimation about the crime or violation that they have supposedly committed. Violence is not to be immediately resorted to by the police officers (Bailey et al., 2016).

Kevin Spratt and Australian citizen was assaulted with an Electronic Stun Device 14 times and it is indeed a matter of him being fortunate enough that he had survived the trauma since repeated assault using Electronic Stun Devices can even cause death. Kevin Spratt was supposed to have been strip-searched by police officer Karl O'Callaghan, to which the former had refused. His refusal to be strip-searched had led police officer Karl O'Callaghan to enforce compliance on him by assault with Electronic Stun Devices. Video footage released showed that there was little or no resistance from Kevin Spratt that could have led police officer Karl O'Callaghan to employ that amount of violence from the supposed offender. Roberto Laudisio Curti, a 21-year-old tourist from Brazil had died in Australia itself due to repeated assault from a police officer in Sydney, even after he was physically overpowered. Ryan Walker, a resident of Perth was also assaulted with an Electronic Stun Device, who had allegedly punched a police officer although video footage shows that he had not committed the act (Weill and Haney 2017).

These instances show that the non-lethal nature of the assault by the Electronic Stun Devices have rather worsened the arbitrary use of power by the police since they have inspired the police officers to use the devices more often than needed because it does not cause death or bloody injuries like the ones caused by guns. Just because it is non-lethal it, however, does not mean that they can be used quite often upon people as they are nevertheless painful, both physically as well as mentally given the nature of trauma is both physically as well as mentally harrowing. Nevertheless, the Electronic Stun Devices are not a total replacement for firearms since the Electronic Stun Devices are only beneficial for small scale threats but not for instances where the danger is grave. It is highly unlikely that the police officer would use Electronic Stun Devices instead of a lethal weapon in case the assailant is armed (Weill and Haney 2017).


On the basis of the discussion carried out in the previous sections, it has been implied that the advantages of the Electronic Stun Devices are quite superficial, and it cannot undo the harm it does to the general public. This particular standpoint shall be substantiated in this section against the Colonial Policing Theory and the Broken Window Theory.

As per the critics of the Colonial Policing Theory, the British Imperialists had tended to use an excessive amount of force upon the indigenous masses of the colonized nations to enforce total compliance to their rule. The British colonizers had used an excessive amount of force upon the indigenous masses to consolidate their rule through the police personnel of the state, and it was permitted by the state. The police officers during the colonial period had an immense amount of powers to detain any suspect at the slightest instance with impunity. The current situation that is prevailing in Australia in light of the assaults mentioned above is similar to the excessive policing during the colonial period. It created more social instability, a climate of fear and paranoia than bringing any order (Steinmetz, Schaefer and Henderson 2017).

As per the Broken Window Theory, excessive policing instead of bringing order in society incites more criminological tendencies among the masses. Excessive and unjust policing is thus not a deterrent to crime rather an inspiration to indulge in more crimes. This happens because the psychology of the persons living in a situation with excessive policing becomes favourably disposed towards defying rather than conforming (Jenkins 2016). Thus, the Police use electronic stun devices (Tasers) are of no benefit to both police and public safety in arresting violent offenders.


Thus, it has been concluded that the Police use electronic stun devices or tasers are of no benefit to both police and public safety in arresting violent offenders since the assaults by the electronic stun devices have escalated themselves to the level of abuse rather than providing a sense of security. The electronic stun devices surely have some technical advantages over firearms, but the weight of disadvantages are much more than the advantages.


  1. Bailey, C.A., Smock, W.S., Melendez, A.M. and El-Mallakh, R.S., 2016. Conducted-Energy Device (Taser) usage in subjects with mental illness. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online, 44(2), pp.213-217.
  2. Bergman, M. and Glickman, M.J., Multek Technologies Ltd, 2017. Wearable electronic stress and strain indicator. U.S. Patent 9,659,478.
  3. Jenkins, M.J., 2016. Police support for community problem-solving and broken windows policing. American journal of criminal justice, 41(2), pp.220-235.
  4. Sarre, R. and Prenzler, T., 2018. Privatisation of police: Themes from Australia. In The Private Sector and Criminal Justice (pp. 97-134). Palgrave Macmillan, London.
  5. Steinmetz, K.F., Schaefer, B.P. and Henderson, H., 2017. Wicked overseers: American policing and colonialism. Sociology of race and ethnicity, 3(1), pp.68-81.
  6. Weill, J. and Haney, C., 2017. Mechanisms of moral disengagement and prisoner abuse. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 17(1), pp.286-318.
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