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Ask Slashdot: What Non-lethal Technology Has the Best Chance of Replacing the Gun? 712

Wycliffe writes: Most cops are not out to kill someone, but when someone reaches for a cellphone or their glovebox, the cop may assumes the worst and try to protect themselves from dying. Guns are used to immobilize the target, and aren't even that good at it when a person is charging. What other potential devices could be used to protect a cop so that guns are unnecessary? Foam? Lightweight body armor? Nets? Robots? 'M.A.N.T.I.S.' paralyzing gas? Force field? What non-lethal technology out there has the best potential to be more effective at immobilizing a target and/or protecting a cop than a gun?
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Ask Slashdot: What Non-lethal Technology Has the Best Chance of Replacing the Gun?

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  • Well.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dskoll ( 99328 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @10:18AM (#50709667) Homepage

    Common sense, the human brain? Reform of policing so citizens actually trust the police?

    Of course sometimes force, even lethal force, is needed. The best non-lethal immobilizer we have at the moment is the taser, although that can sometimes be lethal.

    But it seems to me that training in de-escalation can go a long way to not needing immobilizers.

    • Re:Well.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Intrepid imaginaut ( 1970940 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @10:25AM (#50709749)

      Reform of policing so citizens actually trust the police?

      You need to reform the entire judicial system for that to work. As long as even relatively minor infringements can get someone sent off to forced labour camps with added rape, the police are never going to be part of the community.

      • by ADRA ( 37398 )

        Man, I was going to write you off as another nut job, but reading your response, I realized you're basically on the nose, good job!

      • Re:Well.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @11:07AM (#50710309)

        You need to reform the entire judicial system for that to work. As long as even relatively minor infringements can get someone sent off to forced labour camps with added rape, the police are never going to be part of the community.

        This is true...it's not just the idea of arrest that make people hate and fear the police, it's the follow-on effects that destroy lives for no reason.

        Smoking a joint or not stopping completely at a stop sign shouldn't make you eligible for a beating, pepper-spraying, arrest (with a chance of injury or death), incarceration, and rape. This doesn't happen often, but even once seems to be too much.

        Most police today look and act like extras straight out of RoboCop, and many of them behave as if they're about to be killed at any moment. They overreact at the slightest thing and rarely use their discretion any more. It's just gone fucking nuts.

        When I was young the police (most police) were actually friendly and you could count on them for help. Most people liked and respected police officers. Now they mostly seem to be dicks itching for any excuse to make an arrest over the smallest thing.

        The problem is that most cops these days can't tell the difference between a felony and just fucking around.

        • Re:Well.... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by The-Ixian ( 168184 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @01:20PM (#50711701)

          Absolutely.

          I remember one time I got pulled over for driving my sister's car. She had a warrant that I didn't know about and the officer flipped on his lights right as I was driving over a narrow bridge with no shoulder.

          I kept going to the other side of the bridge and then pulled over. The cop basically pulled me out of the car and screamed at me that he was "this close" to ramming my car off the road.

          If I wasn't so scared I would have laughed at the ridiculousness of the situation. But he was deadly serious.

          • Re:Well.... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @03:06PM (#50712735)

            Yep, most police today act like every contact with person or every situation is "do or die".

            They show very little restraint, and equipping them with "less than lethal" weapons (tasers, pepper spray, etc) has resulted in them being MORE likely to use them than less.

            You see people tased for all sorts of ridiculous crap nowadays, when 90% of the time the situation could have been deescalated with no force or violence.

            But cops ain't got time for that shit these days, now it's comply immediately or risk a tasing or pepper spray to the face. They also feel compelled to arrest or ticket someone for anything, no matter how minor. It's no wonder that the police have such a poor image these days, but the fact is that for the most part, they've earned it.

            Shooting a guy in the back while he's running away? No biggie.
            Kill a guy by throwing him around in the back of a paddy wagon? That's okay.
            Choking a guy to death for selling single cigarettes? Sure, why not.
            Shoot a 12-year old kid with a toy gun (Tamir Rice) on sight? That's fine too.
            Shoot a guy in the head for a broken tail light? Go for it, no problem.

            And for the most part they keep getting away with it, over and over and over.

            Really, is it any wonder the public in general hates and fears the police?

    • Re:Well.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mjm1231 ( 751545 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @10:30AM (#50709813)

      This is the only solution that might actually work.

      This was already tried, and there is a TED talk on the topic which I am too lazy/busy to look up. I don't recall what country this happened in, but non-lethal weapons were handed out to a particular peace force with the intent that they would be used instead of guns, thus resulting in fewer instances of violence. The actual results were that the non-lethal instrument was used something like 10 times more often than guns were, and there was no real reduction in gun usage during police operations.

    • Re:Well.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @10:34AM (#50709863)

      >> Reform of policing so citizens actually trust the police?

      This. When I moved to the US, I was amazed to find that US cops are very clearly there to only protect the governments interests and are absolutely not there to help/protect citizens. That thinking was very alien to me coming from the UKwhere as long as you have done nothing wrong the cops are generally reasonable, approachable and even your friend because they realize the true value of community-minded policing. By comparison, the whole attitude, body language and even clothing style of cops in the US is designed to be immediately intimidating and aggressive. Its a stupid bullying attitude that actively alienates cops from the people so IMHO actually does way more harm than good.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Oh yeah, but don't forget we live in a police state because there are lots of CCTV cameras on the motorways. They don't live in a police state, because guns make for a polite society that doesn't even really need policing.

      • Its a stupid bullying attitude that actively alienates cops from the people so IMHO actually does way more harm than good.

        It's a well thought-out bullying attitude that actively alienates cops from the people (that clearly being the objective) and it does more good than harm to those in charge (even if it isn't immediately obvious) or rest assured things would be different. Mind you, to truly grasp any of this, you'd have to understand the world for what it is, not what you've been led to believe it is.

        • Re:Well.... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @12:06PM (#50710943)

          >> to truly grasp any of this, you'd have to understand the world for what it is, not what you've been led to believe it is.

          As someone who has seen a lot of the world including having lived/worked in several different countries, and now lives in the US but wasn't born/raised here, I can clearly differentiate between the rampant patriotic brainwashing that goes on here in every school and throughout all the media, and what the rest of the world is actually like.
          it therefore seems to me that your assertion that I don't know the real world actually fits most Americans (including you?), and especially those that have never had their eyes opened by ever leaving the American continent, far better than it does me.

      • Re:Well.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by flopsquad ( 3518045 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @11:41AM (#50710673)
        There are a lot of ingredients that have gone into making the toxic brew that is modern American law enforcement. There's no way to do a sweeping reform of the system that will fix this, but some items that might help, individually or in combination:

        - Laws or state/federal constitutional amendments that prohibit using criminal statutes for revenue generation (or redirect funds out of the hands of the entities that pass and enforce those statutes)

        - Ending the drug war/decriminalizing possession

        - Expanded training in de-escalation, legal use of force, and constitutional rights

        - Demilitarization of a large proportion of each local and state law enforcement agency, excepting justifiable units (e.g., small, dedicated SWAT teams)

        - Expanded protections against, and personal liability for, prosecutorial misconduct (because not all abuses have their genesis at the street level)

        - Expanded mandates for body and vehicle cameras (both at the departmental and evidentiary levels); simultaneously, thoughtful limitations to unfettered sunshine law access to every minute of footage

        - Community (e.g. citizen board) review of brutality complaints

        - Abolishing vague "disorderly conduct"-type statutes that allow for meritless arrest-and-drop-charges-later encounters

        - Financial penalty for instances of "resisting arrest," "failure to obey," or "disorderly conduct" for which no conviction/guilty plea is eventually secured

        Not all of these would be appropriate for every situation. But some subset might go a long way in a lot of places.
    • Re:Well.... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by BrendaEM ( 871664 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @10:36AM (#50709893) Homepage

      I agree.

      Police are supposed to protect the peace--not be thoughtless killing machines. We live in a time, when anyone wants to die, that's all they need do, is antagonize a police officer. They are that reliable.

      We checks and balances were supposed to be on police officers have obviously failed.

      I witnessed firsthand police aggression, when a police officer tried coercing me to take his version of the truth while taking a statement. I had to raise my hands and step back because I thought he was going to kill me. Try dealing with that after you have been hit by a car.

    • Re:Well.... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CaptainLard ( 1902452 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @10:38AM (#50709923)

      Of course sometimes force, even lethal force, is needed.

      Why? If you have a non-lethal immobilizer that's more effective than a gun (which is what were trying to find here), what justification would you have for killing someone outside the normal justice process?

    • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

      Reform of policing so citizens actually trust the police?

      Recently I saw a comment that described how in the present environment in the US, the only interactions a person has with the police are typically of a "negative" context. There are now fewer or no "positive" encounters with police anymore.
      Combined with overt militarization of the police force (why the hell does a police department even need an MRAP - let alone a department in a rural area?), its going to take a lot of reform to fix the police.

      • Recently I saw a comment that described how in the present environment in the US, the only interactions a person has with the police are typically of a "negative" context. There are now fewer or no "positive" encounters with police anymore.

        It goes along with the decline of neighborhoods. You used to live in an area where the people generally worked in the same industries and rode the same mass transit to get there and back, shopped in the same neighborhood stores, and had one or two police officers patrolling the neighborhood who'd been on that beat for years, and everyone knew each other. Now, when everyone gets in their cars and drives off in different directions to go to work, shop in supermarkets scattered all over, and the police officer

      • Re:Well.... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @11:11AM (#50710349) Homepage

        I think that the militarization also amplifies the bad eggs in police departments. Years ago, a potential bad cop who gets off by enforcing his power over others might get a gun to play with. That was good for them, but had limited impact. Now, he can essentially be part of a paramilitary organization with all the equipment a group like that would have. This attracts more people who want to be cops not to enforce the law or help people, but to wield power over others which leads to peaceful protests being met with military-style responses.

    • Except for dogs. Dog killings are bonus points to brag about apparently!

  • Drones ? (Score:5, Funny)

    by GuB-42 ( 2483988 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @10:21AM (#50709707)

    3D printed laser drones should be the perfect solution, as long as they aren't running systemd.
    I wonder how much it will cost in Bitcoin.

  • Guns are used to immobilize the target

    No, guns are used to STOP the target. Which looks a lot like "immobilize", but isn't quite. "Stop" includes a lot besides "prevent it from moving".

    Such as "maim" or "kill", to provide a couple examples....

    As for me, I think I'll go with Frederik Douglas' advice "a good revolver and a steady hand"....

  • You have to wonder what the effect would be on the criminally minded if they believed that the worst case scenario with the police was that they would be immobilized.

    • Well, if *I* were criminally minded and had a gun, and the cop had something that could immobilize me (maybe, if it worked 100% as advertised), I think I'd worry about cops stopping me from committing crimes a lot less....
    • I'm pretty sure it's the lengthy incarceration afterwards that acts as a deterrent, not the immobilization itself...
    • Exactly this... to some, only the threat of death is enough to make them take pause. Knowing they will be tazed and "live to crime another day" is enough to convince them that they are invincible. Sorry, but you can't remove the threat of death from a confrontation.

      • That's why all those other countries are crime ridden hell holes compared to the US. The only way to turn the world into a paradise on Earth is guns, more guns and extra guns!

    • by jeti ( 105266 )
      It's not the cops job to deal out punishment.
  • Polite request (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    What will be more effective than a gun?
    How about a polite request.

    Just as the pen is mightier than the sword, lemonade is generally preferable over lemons. Let's get rid of the hostility, or at least have one side (the people who are getting paid... the cops) at least do their part in trying to remove at least one side of the cause for hostility.

    Remember the old phrase "to serve and protect"... notice how that phrase mentioned "protect" second, as if that was the secondary role.

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      Just as the pen is mightier than the sword,

      Maybe. Maybe not [gocomics.com].

    • The Supreme Court has ruled that the police have no responsibility to protect you. This came about when (as I recall) a lady was in a position where someone was shooting at her. She called the police. The police came and then sat around waiting for it all to end. She sued. The Supreme Court ruled that the police only have responsibility to society as a whole. So in other words, if you are in a shoot out or someone is breaking into your house, the police can go write parking tickets instead of assisting

  • by SecurityGuy ( 217807 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @10:28AM (#50709783)

    That's the faulty premise in the question.

    How about "What can we do so that cops shoot people who aren't doing anything wrong less often?"

    Prosecute them. Hold them to a HIGHER standard than the rest of us, not a lower one.

    • by willworkforbeer ( 924558 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @10:36AM (#50709891)
      Exactly. That guy in NYC that the cops just choked to death -- no non-lethal tech would solve that kind of decision-making.
    • Prosecute them. Hold them to a HIGHER standard than the rest of us, not a lower one.

      Government-employed police are never going to be prosecuted much by the government legal system, because there are too many close connections.

      The only way to realistically accomplish that is to replace a lot of police and security functions with private security companies; those companies are liable for their actions, and they do compete against each other.

  • *ducks*

  • I thought tasers were already the de facto standard for non-lethal immobilization. The dirty secret is that they don't actually work very well, as in wearing a neoprene wetsuit under your clothes would pretty much render you immune to them.
    • by t0qer ( 230538 )

      Seems like the easy solution here is to increase the FPS of the barbs to go through the neoprene.

    • Re:Tasers? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @12:48PM (#50711387)

      Tasers are the defacto standard for inflicting pain as a punishment by the officer. It's followed in a close second place by pepper spray, though pepper spray would probably be used more if the officer wasn't also exposed to it. The beauty of it is Taser use isn't even questioned, and in most departments it's not even tracked. An officer can use a taser without any expectation of punishment for using it, even under the flimsiest of circumstances. On the other hand using their gun will net the officer desk duty and a full review. Taser use won't even get them a note in their personnel file even if they use it against an innocent person for the fun of it (though they'd probably get reprimanded if it was just for fun).

      What's interesting about the #blacklivesmatter movement is that police reaction that this movement constitutes police harassment. It's apparent from this that the movement is having at least some cursory impact on policing in the form of reviews of use of force.

      The hope is that one day police will be held at a minimum to the same standard you or I would be held to if we did exactly the same thing. Because there should not be a waiver for police to use force in a circumstance where the public at large couldn't use the same force. And the quickest cleanest solution to this is body cameras where the public has access to the footage such that police abuse can be used to revoke the officers certification to be a police officer with such lists shared nationally along with immediate and harsh punishment for violating the standards. If a cop shoots someone and it would be murder if you or I did it they should also be charged with murder.

  • People need to embrace the power of dialouging and negotiation instead of violence. Recently there was a jumper on top of a building in SF. Police talked him down by bringing his housecat to the scene.

    It starts with the youth. Teach children to express themselves through language instead of acting out. Set a good example!

  • They already have the only weapon they really need...a radio. They can call backup, nobody else they run into can really do that, and the few that can, can't do it like they can on the scale they can.

    There really is no need for every cop to be armed at all when they can call in armed backup as needed.

  • Many would be shooters wouldn't try anything if they knew it was 2 against 1. It would give the arresting officer much more confidence in his safety and thus he would less likely to draw his sidearm.

    We should go back to the model where police are always out on patrol in pairs.

  • Tasers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ITRambo ( 1467509 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @10:42AM (#50709967)
    Tasers already exist. Yet, cops shoot to kill instead of stun to disable. Why do we need another non-lethal weapon that won't be used?
  • The problem with using it is legal and ethical.

    Look at North Korea. Their police rarely have a need for guns, and in fact, most conflicts that occur seem to be at the behest of the government and not the other way around. Their policing is proactive, reducing the number of conflict events.

    You just have to remove all personal freedoms and justify everything as being better for society, for a given definition of better. Our two major political parties in the US have already been making inroads on this, we

  • This question is illustrating for the problem the US has. The solution is not technological, it's psychological. Law enforcement agencies in many other countries rarely need to use their guns or tasers so why do US police officers kill so many people?!

    Not having trigger happy cops, not creating trigger happy criminals that have nothing to lose because of your ridiculously long jail terms could be a start. Legalizing all kinds of mundane things like drug use would also help greatly. And, obviously, the numbe

  • There going to be situations when lethal force is the only choice. Thats that that.

    Vast majority of situations don't need to be.

    And the only way to improve odds of non-violent conflict resolution is training the cops that want to do that right thing and weeding out those that don't.

    This isn't an overnight panacea but i'm afraid there simply isn't one.

  • by redmid17 ( 1217076 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @10:45AM (#50710003)
    They are used to kill people. Look at the force continuum used by PDs. Guns are in the lethal section. If an officer is shooting his gun, he's trained to and willing to kill someone at that point. Now a ton of things need to change with respect to the officer and his willingness to shoot someone for little to no reason (eg Tamir Rice's killer or Lonnie Swartz), but as long as officers are given the ability to kill people there really isn't an effective replacement for guns.

    Honestly better recruitment and enforcing use of de-escalation techniques is probably the best bet.
  • by blue9steel ( 2758287 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @10:45AM (#50710007)
    The only practical solution currently is rubber bullets. The cops get to keep the ease of use and most of the stopping power of a gun but the lethality levels go way down.
  • I thought this sounded promising. If you feel like you're on fire, it is a strong incentive to stop/drop/roll. https://youtu.be/dmuyLIrSjxI [youtu.be]

    We just need to get this into a handheld size.

  • by silas_moeckel ( 234313 ) <silas AT dsminc-corp DOT com> on Monday October 12, 2015 @11:02AM (#50710245) Homepage

    Correct one is what technology will protect the public? Answer is less paramilitary training of cops. Less training to twitch react and kill somebody. Less freedom to put themselves in the way as an excuse for lethal force. A LOT more training on how to use firearms. A lot of training and expectation to defuse situations that a firearm is their last resort.

    Accept that slightly more cops will die while far more of the public will live. That is part of their job that they chose to do. They should be held to a higher bar regarding using force for their personal safety than the public not a lower one. The butcher's bill for cops shot in the line of duty is 26 this year. Comparatively cops in the US kills far far more people than all other first world countries combined at approx 3 a day. The UK had 4 fatal shootings by officers in 4 years. Canada killed 14 people in 2014. In contrast police have killed 2 17 year old girls "in fear for their lives" one through the side door of a stolen car and one with a butchers knife in the PD's lobby.

A holding company is a thing where you hand an accomplice the goods while the policeman searches you.

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