Give Police a Safe Alternative to Lethal Force

Nearly 1,000 Americans die of lethal force by police each year. Imagine a world where police can interact with the public without the use of lethal force. What if police officers could make arrests, protect themselves, eliminate threats, and de-escalate situations without the use of guns or dangerous restraints? What if new technology and solutions made lethal force unnecessary? What if the success of this technology led to widespread adoption and thus reduced deaths by lethal force? This safe alternative would be welcomed both by police and the community, providing a way to move beyond the current cycle of death and violent response.

Thanks for starting this discussion, @vinodlobo! Curious to see what will be the reactions. It’s not the most intuitive “XPRIZE-y” topic, but arguably one that could use a fresh perspective.

This is a great concept @vinodlobo ! How would you put it in a broader scope? I’m thinking something along the lines of “Community Health” or “Social Determinants of Health”, aka a broader lens of community and social engagement to improve health outcomes, or in this case, mortality rates.

Yes @nmgraham my topic is quite specific. A broader scope for a subdomain in which this could fit under the Health domain could be:
“Preventing Violence in Communities”
The goal would be initiatives that lower injury and death rates for due to violence stemming from incidents with police and other community members.

CTTSO has a relevant challenge at, but just focus on crowd control and at the theoretical level. If it can be put together into this thread, they might be called collectively "Less-Lethal Law Enforcement " .

May “Preventing Violence in Communities” sound more like for reducing public security incidents and cover a lot of non-police community members?

@crointel I like “Less-Lethal Law Enforcement”, broadens the scope without becoming generic. Though I’m not sure it is broad enough for a subdomain based on previous responses to the original Safe Alternative to Lethal Force. I do feel that given our current situation in the U.S. a health subdomain that specifically addresses reducing injury and death in law enforcement situations is beneficial.

Less-Lethal Law Enforcement or a similar/improved term may include efforts which are not performed on the spot of law enforcement, such as better training or education, less strained civil-police relations, etc., I guess.

Honestly, I think this problem mostly exists in the US. Do you think we could expand it to include the entire world?

Also, if we do focus on helping police forces in all nations, won’t there be a backlash when officers in non-democratic countries use this technology to restrain the populace?

@Roey Certainly this issue is more acute in the U.S. if thinking about the use of guns and local police. Once expanded to all lethal force including restraints, batons, etc. and also including national police, then this applies in every country. Any alternative in the wrong hands could be misused in the wrong hands to restrain people. The key of course is the health focus: saving lives and injuries.

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As I see it, guns have three optional purposes–
1. Kill
2. Instantly disable
3. Intimidate–causes compliance
I would say the best solution does 2 and 3 better than a gun, not 1, and is convenient to use. Three “close” candidates come to mind–
Taser, bear spray (capsaicin), methyl mercaptan
I experienced the response that I think would be desired when as a young chemistry student I got some SO2 in my face–it felt like a physical blow and instantly immobilized my whole body.

@vinodlobo, ErnieRogers -
I see what you’re both saying, but I don’t quite agree.

One the one hand, it’s true that if we discover a method to painlessly incapacitate people without long-lasting harm, then it would trump the use of guns and probably save lives.

On the other, totalitarian regimes are looking for just such methods to break up demonstrations without resorting to deadly violence. The dictators know full well that using guns against the population is a line that should not be easily crossed, lest they risk the ire of citizens who remained uninvolved so far. I’m very concerned that novel methods of the kind mentioned above would be used with far greater prevalence by dictators, then by police officers in democratic countries.