I joined the Seattle Police Department in 1965. At 5-10 I was one of the smallest people in Academy Class 49. It was a new experience for me, being the short guy. We had a couple of females in the class but they were to become Police Women, a different civil service designation whose job description was to deal with children, females, and generally assist Police Officers when requested.
Police officers had minimum physical size requirements because we were expected to intimidate suspects and win fights. In the bad old days when the First Avenue beat had a dozen and a half bars and taverns, half "Indian" taverns, the old beat cops expected a least a couple of fights every night and, far as I know, won them all. Being "pre-grand jury" days and the statute of limitations has long run, I can say that beat cops were expected were expected to down two shots in every bar on every shift. Some old timers, I think I never saw sober. Rumor was that some sobered up after they retired, when they had to pay for their drinks. The point is that they won their fights, didn't have to shoot suspects, and TASERs had not been invented.
I was a terrible fighter, hated getting physical, and never lost a fight that I could recall, though over 30 years several suspects escaped. How come? Because I hardly ever got into a fight. I was big enough and ugly enough to look like a "real" cop . . . and Chinatown was a peaceful place one you got to know the people. Back in the bad old pre-grand jury days it was safe to walk downtown at midnight but now it is questionable at noon. What happened?
Four things happened: The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the grand jury investigation, the invention of electronic camaras, and Watts. In the bad old days your sergeant would say, "You have a problem on your beat. You handle it and I'll handle the heat." Bet you that no sergeant has said THAT in 20 years. Some people only understand pain. Back then, you could drag someone into an alley and convince them in a non-lethal way to leave your district. Now days, touch any person for any reason and it could be on the news in full color.
Then there is "equal opportunity." A five foot, 100 pound lady cop could be a black belt karate champ but a 6 foot, 250 pound drunk will have to see for himself. And if she isn't a black belt champ? She gets creamed. Read your local newspaper. Note the gender of injured police officers.
And law suits. Our new national sport is suing your local police department. In the bad old days the police officer's goal was to go home at least as healthy as when he started the shift. We now add, "and don't get sued." The best way to NOT get sued is to NOT do anything, specifically, NOT get physical. Better to spend two hours writing a report that explains why fighting wasn't appropriate than to spend two minutes fighting. And one can't drink coffee while fighting. And now that the officer PAYS for his coffee . . .
So as long as the courts hold that TASERs are non-lethal and a situation looks like it is getting physical . . . . I have read that the Washington State Patrol now instructs its people to TASER before laying a hand on anyone.