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Book Review: Risk Management of Less Lethal Options

​CRC Press;; 334 pages; $89.95.

An insightful look into the world of less lethal force encounters, Risk Management of Less Lethal Options is based on well-researched technical data and real-world examples. The book collects research papers by the two principal authors, plus a number of other contributors. While the book was clearly written for law enforcement, with a focus on civil unrest and emotionally disturbed subject cases, its information and points of discussion are equally relevant to security organizations.

The book contains an immense volume of technical information on various devices, including component descriptions, capabilities, and limitations.  Ballistic and forensic performance are also described in detail. This data is supported by ample visual aids from graphs to photos of wounds inflicted by the tools being described. Much of the text flows well and is easy to read, though the technical descriptions can be scientifically dense at times. The text contains some typos, but these do not significantly impact the content or quality of the book.

The expertise of the authors is evident in the text. Examples cited reflect real world experience. The authors urge organizations to conduct their own testing, and the stories of officer’s real encounters in the field keep the book grounded on its purpose.

Though the book does not provide an explicit guide for developing use-of-force policies, the authors have created an excellent framework for designing such policies. Anyone who is responsible for developing or reviewing their agency’s force policies will find this book an invaluable resource. It presents sensible arguments for how and when to use force, and it endorses starting with less lethal weapons, even in incidents that end in fatality. The added discussion on properly documenting use-of-force incidents, collecting the right evidence, and educating jurors during legal challenges of a use-of-force fatality make this book valuable to any public safety organization. 

Overall, Risk Management of Less Lethal Options is a quality source of information on less-lethal tools available to public safety professionals. Any security organization that deploys uniformed officers, regardless of whether that deployment includes lethal or less than lethal capabilities, should review this book. These security organizations would find that the discussions, examples, and visual aids presented within the book are relevant and beneficial for their organization’s success.
Yan Byalik, CPP, is the security administrator for the City of Newport News, Virginia.  He has 14 years of security experience in multiple industries, managing from 20 to more than 100 security officers, campus security officers, and special conservators of the peace.  He is the chairman of the ASIS Hampton Roads Chapter.