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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Take tasers away from police, group urges solicitor-general

October 31, 2007
Jonathan Fowlie, Vancouver Sun

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association on Wednesday urged B.C.'s solicitor-general to take Tasers away from police throughout the province until training on the device is increased and more checks are implemented for its use. "Policing will not grind to a halt without the Taser. It is only one among a wide array of intermediate force options available to police," BCCLA president Jason Gratl said in a news release.

The call comes fewer than two weeks after Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski died at the Vancouver International Airport. The 40-year-old was shocked by police with a Taser before he died. But Solicitor-General John Les said on Wednesday he does not think Taser use needs to come to an end.

I think what we need to do is allow the inquest [into Dziekanski's death] to proceed, and hopefully it proceeds fairly soon and we'll see what the facts are," he said. Les added that in the past two years, RCMP in B.C. have used Tasers almost 1,000 times, and only two of those incidents have been fatal. "When you've got two out of almost 1,000, I'm not sure that's suggestive of an urgent problem," he said. "We expect police to keep our communities safe every day and I'm really reluctant to take away their tools for being able to do that."

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