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Friday, October 26, 2007

Tasers subject of talk

October 26, 2007

Guelph Union of Tenants and Supporters (GUTS) are calling for a complete ban of Tasers by city police officers.

Recently Guelph Police Chief Rob Davis expressed a desire to outfit every front-line officer with a stun gun.

Currently, only tactical unit officers and front-line supervisors carry Tasers. However, individuals from the anti-poverty organization said the money would be better spent on city social services.

GUTS organizers are gathering Nov. 3 at Norfolk United Church at 1 p.m. to speak about the impacts of Tasers. They will be joined by a speaker from Amnesty International, which is also calling for a ban on stun guns.

There've been far too many deaths after the use of stun guns, said GUTS organizer Curtis Snoba.

Last week a man who was acting erratically at Vancouver International Airport died after police used a Taser on him, Snoba said. A Quebec man also died recently following the zap of a stun gun, which was used because the intoxicated man became aggressive during questioning, he said.

Some health experts, Snoba said, have questions whether it's safe to use stun guns on a subject who is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.

In July, a Guelph man was stunned by police because he was acting irrationally and was suspected of being intoxicated, Snoba said.

"What we think is ridiculous is that they would Taser a man who they knew was already drunk."

Under the Guelph Police Service's Use of Force model, police officers are allowed to use Tasers on subjects that are assaultive to police officers, Snoba said.

But he doesn't believe Guelph Police officers are using their Tasers in appropriate situations.

Deputy police chief Brent Eden said police officers are authorized by law to use Tasers and every officer assesses the situation before determining whether employing a Taser is appropriate.

Under the Use of Force model, some situations where officers can deploy a Taser are to prevent being overpowered when violently attacked, disarm a dangerous person armed with an offensive weapon and control a potentially violent situation.

Eden said Tasers are used as an alternate use of other force.

"If there's a situation where you can use a Taser to render someone unable to fight . . . by far that choice will be preferable to shooting somebody," he said.

At GUTS' gathering next Saturday, participants will brainstorm on ways to keep Tasers out of Guelph, Snoba said.

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