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Friday, November 02, 2007

Taser International a major sponsor of the 2007 Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police conference

I originally posted this on August 30, 2007 but it bears repeating for the uninitiated.

The annual conference of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police was held In August in Calgary, Alberta.

Taser International was a Platinum Sponsor ($75,000+) and a Silver Sponsor ($10,000+). Taser International is the only weapon manufacturer shown on the CACP website as a conference sponsor.

The platinum level sponsorship offered conference banner and signage, promotional opportunities, marketing profile and other benefits, including three conference registrations. The silver level sponsorship offered the same benefits, but only one conference registration.

Other weapon manufacturers, including Beretta USA and Colt Canada, also had a presence at the conference, but only as exhibitors.

In addition to prominent recognition during the conference, Taser International - as a sponsor - was promised an "unmatched opportunity to reach out to conference delegates from the outset of the conference and inform them of your commitment to CACP."

This, in my view, posed an enormous conflict of interest and compromised the integrity of the Association.

In August 2004, one month after Vancouver police finally disclosed their use of tasers on my brother when he died in June, the CACP conference was hosted in Vancouver. Taser International sponsored the Chiefs' Breakfast that year.\

When Vancouver Chief of Police Jamie Graham was asked about this posing a possible conflict of interest, he vigorously defended the sponsorship, and was quoted in the Vancouver Sun as saying: "Because there are certain questions being asked, does that mean you automatically exclude your partners that you've been involved with in life-saving initiatives for years? We have to look at issues of fairness ... This company - we dealt with them way before any of this controversy began ... We've been very open with the fact that Taser was sponsoring this breakfast ... There's no hidden agenda here ... The controversy is no reason to bar the Taser company from paying for the meal for the chiefs of police..."

My view at the time was that there were quite compelling reasons to bar Taser International from paying for the Chiefs' bacon and eggs. My view today is those same compelling reasons still exist. Taser International has become far too cozy with our police (and our coroners). I can't BELIEVE the CACP would see nothing wrong with this picture.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police conference was held in October in New Orleans. Taser International was not a sponsor and, in fact, no weapons manufacturers were listed as sponsors.

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