(CNN)Now that more controversial videos have surfaced of police killing American citizens, some experts are asking a different question: Will police always need deadly force?
In a country with more than 700,000 sworn law enforcement personnel, some degree of human error, bias and misconduct are inevitable. Better training and additional oversight will never completely solve this.
Also benefiting will be the early investors in whichever weapons ultimately replace police firearms. Again, this is a science and engineering challenge, and is thus subject to all of the private sector incentives that fuel research and development in other industries, such as medicine, energy, automobiles and high tech.
Taser International did more than $500 million in revenue from 2013 to 2015, and saw its annual profit rise each year.
When police first give up their ability to shoot to kill, many will object. Some may argue that the change gives criminals the advantage. Police-suspect encounters will become asymmetric conflict: They can kill us, but we cannot kill them. That is true. But law enforcement officers and criminals have always been expected to adhere to different standards. If police want to see more violent criminals die, they have a vote, the opportunity to serve on juries, and the right to advocate for or against the death penalty, like the rest of us. Arrest the suspects, and then work within the system.
For context, it helps to remember that some officers also complained that reading suspects their Miranda rights would make interrogations impossible, and that the Tennessee v. Garner ruling that effectively outlawed shooting fleeing felons in the back would encourage all felons to flee. But police adjusted and the benefits of these changes became widely accepted.
Once they see that newly developed less-lethal technology can quickly incapacitate a suspect, most police officers will adjust again.
Their job will have significantly improved because their mistakes will be far less likely to carry fatal consequences. Public anger against law enforcement will lose some of its nasty edge. And officers will no longer be stuck between the proverbial “rock and a hard place” of risking their career and jail if they shoot too early, and risking their lives if they shoot too late.