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Tasers Appear Safe to Use When Apprehending Young Offenders

Last Updated: September 25, 2012.

The use of conducted electrical weapons, more commonly known as Tasers, in the apprehension of minors does not result in any moderate or severe injuries, but mild superficial injuries are reported in 20 percent of suspects, according to research published in the September issue of Pediatric Emergency Care.

TUESDAY, Sept. 25 (HealthDay News) -- The use of conducted electrical weapons (CEWs), more commonly known as Tasers, in the apprehension of minors does not result in any moderate or severe injuries, but mild superficial injuries are reported in 20 percent of suspects, according to research published in the September issue of Pediatric Emergency Care.

Alison R. Gardner, M.D., of Wake Forest University Health Sciences in Winston-Salem, N.C., and colleagues conducted a study involving 2,026 consecutive uses of CEWs to determine the safety and injury profile of CEWs when used by law enforcement (LE) officers to apprehend children and adolescents.

The researchers found that, overall, 4.9 percent of the incidents involved suspects who were minors, ranging in age from 13 to 17 years. No moderate or severe injuries occurred but 20 suspects sustained 34 mild injuries. The majority of injuries were superficial punctures from CEW probes, but superficial abrasions and contusions were also incurred.

"This investigation represents the first report of CEW use in a group of minor suspects during apprehension by LE officers in a real-world setting," the authors write. "Based on our results, the data support that CEW use during apprehension of adolescents does not seem to pose unacceptable levels of risk. Continued study of CEW safety on this potentially vulnerable population is still needed particularly in smaller-body-size minors; however, the frequency of real-world use on such subjects is likely rare in LE operations."

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