November 25, 2007
The RCMP's complaints commissioner won't say if he'd support an outright ban on the use of Tasers as part of his review of the stun gun's use. "What I think it is fair to say is that the police currently have an array of tactics and techniques and tools they can use," Paul Kennedy told CTV's Question Period on Sunday, referring to physical force, pepper spray, the baton and gun. "The issue is where does (the Taser) fit, in what circumstances would the public say yes, this is an appropriate use of that tool?"
Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day asked Kennedy to undertake a study into the use of Tasers by police. The commissioner had expressed some concerns in past cases. "I had seen cases during the past two years where I thought the device was being used too soon, where other techniques could have been employed, and been used in circumstances that I thought were unacceptable," Kennedy said.
Previously, Kennedy reviewed complaints about Taser use and identified four or five over a 12-month cycle that he considered the "most important." Tasers can be used in one of two fashions: while held against a person's body, or through the deployment of a dart, as in the Robert Dziekanski case at Vancouver airport.
Kennedy said that his reaction to the video of Dziekanski being tasered was the same as that of most Canadians. "It is obviously a very tragic circumstance," he said. "It's something that resonates with us at an instant active human level." But Kennedy said people should avoid jumping to conclusions. He said that officers frequently do follow correct policy and procedures, but those policies themselves need to be examined.
"The reality is that officers are trained in... the use of force," he said. "The issue is: was it used in compliance with policy? What were the full circumstances? Are the policies adequate and is the training adequate?" Agreeing that there is a possible loss of public confidence in the force, Kennedy said that a serious public overview of the RCMP would be beneficial. "We cannot have public safety without police being supported by the public," he said, pointing out that in many cases, the Mounties are co-operating with him beyond his legislative mandate. "There is a bond that must exist. That bond clearly has been eroded through the years. One of my objectives is I have to have a model in place that allows me to both restore and maintain public confidence in the police."
He admits that with better civilian overview, he might have been able to come up with earlier conclusions about RCMP Taser use, perhaps preventing some problems.
In draft model legislation on the complaints commission's website, Kennedy has asked for powers that would allow the body to make recommendations and influence policy, procedure and guidelines. "Why wait for a tragedy to occur? We should be in earlier," he said. "That would be to the benefit of the police and the Canadian public."
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Sunday, November 25, 2007
November 25, 2007