Date of Conferral
James S. Herndon
A substantial body of scientific and medical research has examined the relationship between conductive energy devices and their physical risk to humans. This phenomenological study focused on the psychological impact of Taser utilization in police officers. This research explored how the experience of using a Taser in the line of duty affected officers from the conceptual framework of stress inoculation training and its applicability to Taser certification; the typical mental processes associated with using less-lethal weapons, perceptions of Taser training; and, the preparation provided in training for citizen injuries and deaths. Fifteen officers who had deployed a Taser were included as participants. The sample consisted of 2 randomized groups of 5, and 1 convenience group of 5 officers involved in Taser-related deaths. Data were collected through digitally recorded interviews of the officers' lived experiences. Data were analyzed using a 5-step method of constant comparison to develop and code themed clusters using the officers' own words. Findings showed officers believed the Taser was the best non-lethal device available but they preferred not using a Taser on citizens. In addition, Taser training may not be legally sufficient as defined in relevant court cases. A recommendation is that stress inoculation segments should be included in Taser training courses. Findings indicate Taser-related deaths have the potential to cause extreme stress and trauma in the officers, changing their lives and that of their families forever.