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FGCU Launches Institute to Study Less Lethal Weapons Systems Used in Law Enforcement, Military
1/13/2005

FORT MYERS, FL - Florida Gulf Coast University Division of Justice Studies recently received funding from the U.S. Department of Justice to establish a Center for Excellence in Criminal Justice and Public Safety including the Institute for Technological Innovation and Research to address the needs of the law enforcement and public safety community on various less lethal weapons systems.

Through innovative scholarly research methods, the Institute for Technological Innovation and Research advances knowledge, fosters collaboration between law enforcement, industry and academic to address specific problems in the use of force, and creates opportunities for students to participate in the use of force and scholarly research in the area of less lethal weapons technology.

"As SWAT teams around the country dedicate one or more officers to the use of a less lethal weapon during entries, it becomes decidedly more important for them to be able to choose the right tool for the individual need that arises on a case-by-case basis," justice studies assistant professor and Institute director Charlie Mesloh said.

The Institute provides distance learning or computer-based training programs in the area of less lethal weapons for both students and practitioners.

FGCU and partner organizations in federal, state and local law enforcement work collaboratively to bring together subject matter experts to examine the science behind police use of force.

"Traditionally, law enforcement training in this area focuses upon the mechanics, or the 'how,' of each less lethal tool and its deployment, while scholarly research, or the 'why,' is given only a cursory discussion," Mesloh said.

Weapons and equipment purchased for the Institute create hands-on, cutting edge courses to provide students with a unique experience that is not offered at any other university in America.

A special topics course scheduled for spring 2005 gives students basic training with the less lethal tools of law enforcement and the opportunity to analyze high profile use-of-force cases.

Equally significant, the course trains students to use their knowledge of less lethal weapons to think analytically and to examine the facts of use-of-force incidents with exceptional discernment.

"This course ties these concepts together and creates a less lethal weapons specialist that is capable of making and defending use of force policy decisions."

The Institute provides students with the opportunity to experience tools that include chemical agents, electrical weapons such as the TASER, police dogs, impact weapons, and less lethal munitions from grenade launchers and shotguns.

The U.S. Department of Justice helped fund the Institute and the special topics course.

For more information, contact Mesloh at (239) 590-7761.

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