Police use of TASER devices in mental health emergencies: A review
Anthony J. O'Brien, Katey Thom
International Journal of Law and Psychiatry
Volume 37, Issue 4, July–August 2014
The proliferation of TASER devices among police forces internationally has been accompanied by concerns about injuries and health effects, and about the use of TASER devices on vulnerable populations such as people with mental illness. TASER devices have generated a flood of research studies, although there remain unanswered questions about some of the key issues. This paper outlines the introduction of TASER devices to policing and their subsequent widespread adoption. The paper considers the role of police in mental health emergencies with a particular focus on use of TASER devices. Some factors contribute to the special vulnerability of people with mental illness to the effects of TASER devices. The paper also reviews research into use of TASER devices and raises issues about conflict of interest in research into TASER devices. We conclude that TASER devices look set to play a significant role in policing in the future. We make suggestions for a future research programme, and suggest guidelines for publication of papers in which there may be a conflict of interest.