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This op-ed piece argues that police will inevitably be placed in impossible situations in which they reasonably believe they must shoot to defend themselves but where the shooting in fact turns out to be unnecessary. What can save the police, and the community, from these regular tragedies is a more concerted shift to police use of nonlethal weapons. Taser technology, for example, continues to become increasingly more effective and reliable. While we will always have reasonable mistakes by police in the use of force, it need not be the case that each ends in death or permanent injury. Such a change could go a long way to reducing a major source of police-community tensions, thereby improving the chances of greater cooperation, greater justice, and better crime control.


Law enforcement, crime, public safety, defensive force, nonlethal weapons, community-police relations, Taser technology, deadly force

Publication Title

Baltimore Sun

Publication Citation

Balt. Sun, Jan. 21, 2016, p.17