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Less lethal weapons: a technologist's perspective

Raymond L. Downs (Cumberland, Maryland, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 28 August 2007




To provide a comprehensive picture of the wide range of technical, operational, and management issues that must be considered when developing, acquiring or using less lethal weapons for law enforcement agencies.


The source of the insights provided in this paper come from a careful reading and critique of the less lethal technology literature and the organization of and participation in many less lethal weapon technology conferences, technical working groups, and peer review panels.


The essential attributes of less lethal weapons for law enforcement applications are described as well as the many practical considerations that must be made when acquiring and using them.

Practical implications

This review should help law enforcement and corrections agencies make more informed decisions on the acquisition and deployment of less lethal weapons and should also be a useful starting point for weapon developers.


Scientists and engineers seeking to develop new or improved less lethal weapons for law enforcement will benefit from having in one source a basic insight into the complexities and challenges of producing a successful less lethal weapon. Non‐technical professionals will gain a greater understanding of the difficulty in producing less lethal weapons that are both very effective and very safe, but also affordable and practical.



Downs, R.L. (2007), "Less lethal weapons: a technologist's perspective", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 30 No. 3, pp. 358-384.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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