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

Justin Ready, Michael D. White, Christopher Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-170
Number of pages23
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Electronically operated devices
  • Law enforcement
  • Legal process
  • Policing
  • Social problems
  • United States of America

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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