USA – Washington, DC: Police Executive Research Forum (PERC): “2011 Electronic Control Weapons Guidelines” (2011-04-22)

Published on April 24 2011 by admin

[[SUMMARY / COMMENTS: GlobalShock does not believe that new guide-lines are a panacea, but they can provide increased protection as long as the taser is in use.  The “PERF 2011 Guidelines” are, we believe ground-breaking,  from a widely-respected US forum (Police Executive Research Forum: PERF) – developed for and with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). COPs focuses on effective policing while respecting human rights and seeking to improve police-community relations. This text should, we believe, become the “gold standard” even if we would want to modify some clauses and add others. The original text (URL at the end ) is a 60-page PDF document, which also explains whom PERF represents and its membership (for this report). We publish here the Report’s 53 relatively concise recommendations ( pages 17-23), grouped under Agency (1-7), Training (8-20), Taser use (21-33), Medical considerations (34-43), Reporting and accountability (44-50) and Public information and Community Relations (51-54) . We heard about this from “”, normally highly “Taser-friendly”: an article favorable to the guidelines was published online on 20 April 2011. See reference at the end.]]

Please note: The text IN BOLD is provided by GlobalShock for emphasis –  not highlighted in the original document – containing recommendations that are typically NOT in local police Taser protocols.


Electronic Control Weapon Guidelines

Agency Policy

1. Agency personnel must always consider the totality of the circumstances when applying the guidelines. In certain situations, exigent circumstances may outweigh the recommendation of a specific guideline. Personnel should always be able to articulate the justification for going beyond agency policy or training.

2. Agencies should develop policies and training curricula for ECWs that are integrated with the agency’s overall use-of-force policy.

3. Agencies should work to share and disseminate information regarding their respective ECW policies and training to foster better cooperation and coordination during joint law enforcement responses or operations. When possible, agencies should enter into a memorandum of understanding to develop joint ECW policies, protocols, and training.

4. Agencies should consult with local medical personnel to develop appropriate police-medical protocols for medical evaluation and removal of ECW probes following subjects’ exposure to ECW application.

5. Agencies should consider adopting brightly colored ECWs (e.g., yellow), which may reduce the risk of escalating a force situation because they are plainly visible and thus decrease the possibility that a secondary unit will mistake the ECW for a firearm. (Note: Specialized units [e.g., SWAT units] may prefer dark-colored ECWs for tactical concealment purposes.)

6. Personnel should keep ECWs in a weak-side holster and should train to perform a weak-hand draw or cross-draw to reduce the possibility of accidentally drawing and/or firing a sidearm. Transitioning the ECW to the strong hand after drawing with the weak hand should be allowed.

7. If agencies permit personnel to use privately owned ECWs on duty, policy should dictate specifications, regulations, qualifications, etc. The privately owned ECWs should be registered with the agency.


8. Before any agency personnel (e.g., officers, jail personnel, auxiliary/reserve officers, civilian staff) are armed with ECWs, they should receive all mandated training and achieve all qualification requirements.

9. Agencies should use scenario- and judgment-based training that recognizes the limitations of ECW application and the need for personnel to be prepared to transition to other force options as needed.

10. Agencies should not rely solely on training curriculum provided by an ECW manufacturer. When they do use the curriculum, agencies should ensure the manufacturer’s training does not contradict agency use-of-force policies and values. Agencies should ensure that their ECW curricula are integrated into their overall use-of-force training curriculum.

11. Agencies should be aware that exposure to ECW application during training could result in injury to personnel and is not recommended. Any agency that does include ECW application as part of training should not make it mandatory for certification, and should ensure that safety protocols are rigorously followed.

12. ECW recertification should occur at least annually and should consist of physical competency and weapon retention, agency policy including any changes, technology changes, and reviews of local and national trends in ECW use. Recertification should also include scenario-based training.

13. Personnel should be trained to use an ECW for one standard cycle (five seconds) and then evaluate the situation to determine if subsequent cycles are necessary. Training protocols should emphasize that multiple applications or continuous cycling of an ECW resulting in an exposure longer than 15 seconds (whether continuous or cumulative) may increase the risk of serious injury or death and should be avoided.

14. Training protocols should emphasize the risk of positional asphyxia, and thus officers should be trained to use a restraint technique that does not impair the subject’s respiration following an ECW application.

15. Personnel should be trained that when a subject is armed with an ECW and attacks or threatens to attack a police officer who is alone, the officer must defend himself or herself or take actions to avoid becoming incapacitated and risking the possibility that the subject could gain control of the officer’s firearm. However, if multiple officers are present, a subject’s attack with an ECW against one officer should not in and of itself cause a deadly-force response by other officers.

16. Agencies’ policy and training should discourage the use of the drive stun mode as a pain compliance technique. The drive stun mode should be used only to supplement the probe mode to complete the incapacitation circuit, or as a countermeasure to gain separation between officers and the subject so that officers can consider another force option.

17. Personnel should be trained to attempt hands-on control tactics during ECW application, including handcuffing the subject during ECW application (i.e., handcuffing under power). Training should emphasize that personnel who touch a subject during ECW application will not receive exposure to the electrical charge, so long as caution is taken not to touch the subject along the circuit (i.e., between the locations of the two probes).
18. Command staff, supervisors, and investigators should receive ECW awareness training appropriate to the investigations they conduct and review.

19. If an agency uses more than one model of ECWs, training should emphasize the differences in the various models (e.g., duration of cycle, optimal probe spread).

20. In addition to providing an overview of ECWs, agencies should provide ECW awareness training to personnel who are not certified to carry the devices and emphasize their responsibilities. The training should also cover situations such as attempting to handcuff subjects during ECW application and transitioning to other force options.

Using the ECW

21. Personnel should use an ECW for one standard cycle (five seconds) and then evaluate the situation to determine if subsequent cycles are necessary. Personnel should consider that exposure to the ECW for longer than 15 seconds (whether due to multiple applications or continuous cycling) may increase the risk of death or serious injury. Any subsequent applications should be independently justifiable, and the risks should be weighed against other force options.

22. A warning should be given to a subject prior to activating the ECW unless doing so would place any person at risk. Warnings may be in the form of verbalization, display, laser painting, arcing, or a combination of these tactics.

23. When feasible, an announcement should be made to other personnel on the scene that an ECW is going to be activated.

24. Personnel should not intentionally activate more than one ECW at a time against a subject.

25. ECWs should be used only against subjects who are exhibiting active aggression or who are actively resisting in a manner that, in the officer’s judgment, is likely to result in injuries to themselves or others. ECWs should not be used against a passive subject.

26. Fleeing should not be the sole justification for using an ECW against a subject. Personnel should consider the severity of the offense, the subject’s threat level to others, and the risk of serious injury to the subject before deciding to use an ECW on a fleeing subject.

27. ECWs should not generally be used against pregnant women, elderly persons, young children, and visibly frail persons. Personnel should evaluate whether the use of the ECW is reasonable, based upon all circumstances, including the subject’s age and physical condition. In some cases, other control techniques may be more appropriate as determined by the subject’s threat level to others.

28. Personnel should not intentionally target sensitive areas (e.g., head, neck, genitalia).

29. ECWs should not be used on handcuffed subjects unless doing so is necessary to prevent them from causing serious bodily harm to themselves or others and if lesser attempts of control have been ineffective.

30. ECWs should not be used against subjects in physical control of a vehicle in motion (e.g., automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, ATVs, bicycles, scooters).

31. ECWs should not be used when a subject is in an elevated position where a fall may cause substantial injury or death.

32. ECWs should not be used in the known presence of combustible vapors and liquids or other flammable substances including alcohol-based Oleoresin Capsicum (O.C.) spray carriers. Agencies utilizing both ECWs and O.C. spray should use a non-combustible (e.g., water-based) spray.

33. ECWs can be effective against aggressive animals. Policies should indicate whether use against animals is permitted.

Medical Considerations

34. Personnel should be aware that there is a higher risk of sudden death in subjects under the influence of drugs and/or exhibiting symptoms associated with excited delirium.

35. When possible, emergency medical personnel should be notified when officers respond to calls for service in which they anticipate an ECW application may be used against a subject.

36. All subjects who have been exposed to ECW application should receive a medical evaluation by emergency medical responders in the field or at a medical facility. Subjects who have been exposed to prolonged application (i.e., more than 15 seconds) should be transported to an emergency department for evaluation. Personnel conducting the medical evaluation should be made aware that the suspect has experienced ECW activation, so they can better evaluate the need for further medical treatment.

37. All subjects who have received an ECW application should be monitored regularly while in police custody even if they received medical care. Documentation of the ECW exposure should accompany the subject when transferred to jail personnel or until the subject is released from police custody.

38. ECW probes should be treated as a biohazard. Personnel should not remove ECW probes from a subject that have penetrated the skin unless they have been trained to do so. Only medical personnel should remove probes that have penetrated a subject’s sensitive areas or are difficult to remove.

39. ECWs should be regulated while personnel are off duty under rules similar to those for service firearms (including storage, transportation, use, etc.).

40. A supervisor should respond to all incident scenes where an ECW was activated.

41. When possible, supervisors should anticipate on-scene officers’ use of ECWs and should respond to calls for service that have a high propensity for the use of an ECW.

42. A supervisor should conduct an initial review of each ECW activation, and every instance of ECW use, including unintentional activation, should be documented.

43. Agencies should initiate force investigations when any of the following factors is involved:
——A subject experiences a proximity death or serious injury following ECW application
——A subject experiences prolonged ECW application (longer than 15 seconds)
——The ECW appears to have been used in a punitive or abusive manner
——There appears to be a substantial deviation from ECW training or policy
——A subject in an at-risk category has been subjected to application (e.g., young children, individuals who are elderly/frail, pregnant women, and any other activation as determined by a supervisor)

44. Every ECW-related enhanced force investigation (and when possible every preliminary investigation) should include:
——Interviews of the subject and all officers who discharged their ECWs
——Location and interviews of witnesses (including other officers)
——Forensic quality photographs (including a ruler to show distances) of subject and officer injuries
——Photographs of cartridges/probes
——Collection of ECW cartridges, probes, data downloads, car video, confetti tags
——Copies of the ECW data download
——Other information as indicated in Reporting and Accountability Guideline #50

45. When reviewing downloaded ECW data, supervisors and investigators should be aware that the total time of activation registered on an ECW may not reflect the actual duration of ECW application on a subject.

46. ECW activations should be tracked in the agency’s early intervention system (EIS).

47. Agencies should periodically conduct random audits of ECW data downloads and reconcile use-of-force reports with recorded activations. Agencies should take necessary action as appropriate when inconsistencies are detected.

48. Audits should be conducted to verify that all personnel who carry ECWs have attended initial and recertification training.

49. Agencies should collect and analyze information to identify ECW trends. Agencies may include display, laser painting, and arcing of weapons to measure prevention/deterrence effectiveness. Agencies should periodically analyze ECW statistics and make them available to the public

50. Agencies should collect the following information about ECW use:
——Date, time, location of incident
——The use of display, laser painting and/or arcing, and whether those tactics deterred a subject and gained compliance
——Identifying and descriptive information and investigative statements of the subject (including membership in an at-risk population), all personnel firing ECWs, and all witnesses
——The type and brand of ECW used
——The number of ECW activations, the duration of each cycle, the duration between activations, and (as best as can be determined) the duration that the subject received applications
——Level of aggression encountered
——Any weapons possessed by the subject
——The type of crime/incident the subject was involved in
——Determination of whether deadly force would have been justified
——The type of clothing worn by the subject
——The range at which the ECW was used
——The type of mode used (probe deployment or drive stun)
——The point of probe impact on a subject with the device in probe mode
——The point of impact on a subject with the device in drive stun mode
——Location of missed probe(s)
——Terrain and weather conditions during ECW use
——Lighting conditions
——The type of cartridge used
——Suspicion that subject was under the influence of drugs (specify if available)
——Medical care provided to the subject
——Any injuries incurred by personnel or the subject

Public Information and Community Relations

51. Law enforcement agencies should conduct neighborhood programs that focus on ECW awareness training, which should be part of any citizen’s training academy program.
52. Agencies’ public information officers should receive extensive training on ECWs so they can better inform the media and the public about the weapon. Members of the media should be briefed on agencies’ policies and use of ECWs.
53. ECW awareness should extend to law enforcement partners such as local medical personnel, citizen review boards, medical examiners, mental health professionals, judges, and local prosecutors.

Source (formating adapted from pdf) :

see also the 2011-04-22 article by Greg Meyer: “TASER guidelines updated for first time since 2005: The Police Executive Research Forum’s 2005 guidelines were well-intentioned, but became contentious in litigation”,




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