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Shock value: A comparative analysis of news reports and official police records on TASER deployments

Justin Ready (Department of Sociology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, New York, USA)
Michael D. White (Department of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, New York, USA)
Christopher Fisher (Criminal Justice Research and Evaluation Center, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, New York, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 7 March 2008

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper sets out to encompass a comparative analysis of news reports and official police records of TASER deployments from 2002 to 2005.

Design/methodology/approach

The methodology involves a content analysis of all LexisNexis and New York Times articles involving police use of the TASER during the study period (n = 353). Regional (New York Times) and national (LexisNexis) news reports describing police use of the TASER are compared with police reports of all TASER deployments by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) during the same timeframe (n = 375).

Findings

Descriptive statistics and logistic regression are used to compare the data sources with respect to: the circumstances in which the weapon is deployed; the characteristics of the suspects involved in the TASER incidents; and the significant predictors of continued suspect resistance and repeated use of the TASER by an officer.

Research limitations/implications

The paper examines official police records on TASER deployments from one police agency. This limits the ability to generalize the research findings to other police agencies that have adopted different practices and policies regulating the deployment of CEDs. Additionally, the content analysis includes only articles in the mainstream print media.

Practical implications

The paper concludes with a discussion about some myths associated with news reports on police use of the TASER, and their potential impact on both public perception and police practices.

Originality/value

To date, research has not systematically compared media representations of the TASER with official reports on police deployments of the weapon. That is the focus of this paper.

Keywords

Citation

Ready, J., White, M.D. and Fisher, C. (2008), "Shock value: A comparative analysis of news reports and official police records on TASER deployments", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 148-170. https://doi.org/10.1108/13639510810852620

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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