Updated 10/01/2012 12:43 PM
Study looks at Taser use on teens
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GREENSBORO --Teens stunned by law enforcement aren't at any higher risk for serious injury than adults. That's what researchers found in a new study by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Officials say they aren't for or against the use of the weapon, but they say it's a safe when compared with other alternatives.
“Taser use is far safer for both the suspect and the officer,” Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center Director of Pre-hospital Research Dr. William Bozeman said.
That's what a new study by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found. Researchers looked at a database of thousands of Taser uses but specifically looked at the cases involving people under the age of 18. “Of the 100 minors that were exposed to a Taser,” Dr. Bozeman said, “Only about 20 had any injuries at all. And of those 20, the large majority were the expected injury of having the probe poke them in the skin.”
This is the first study of its kind to specifically look at the use of Tasers on adolescents. Officers say Tasers are just one of many tools in their arsenal and the study's findings back up their use.
“The officers are out here trying to protect everyone involved. There's no perfectly safe way to do that. In a perfect we wouldn't need it but statistically, a Taser, is less dangerous than many other tools,” Guilford County Sheriff's Office Captain Robert Elliott said.
Dr. Bozeman said the study was not done to show support either for or against the use of Tasers. Rather, they wanted to take a look at some of the tools that officers use and try to find the safest way for both the suspect and the officer in the event of an altercation.
“What is the safest way for an officer to use force that's still effective. What we're finding is Taser use far safer for both the officer and the suspect,” Dr. Bozeman said.
The research also found injuries are extremely rare with the use of police stun guns.
Doctors said more than 99 percent of people have minimal injuries such as scraps or puncture wounds from the probes or no injuries at all.