You may have arrived here via a direct link to a specific post. To see the most recent posts, click HERE.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Nova Scotia taser review panel urged to include mentally ill person

December 8, 2007
GRAHAM NORTH, Halifax News

The province outlined a promised review of Taser use in Nova Scotia yesterday, which comes in the wake of the death of Howard Hyde. Hyde, 45, who suffered from schizophrenia, died Nov. 22 in custody 30 hours after he was Tasered twice by the Halifax Regional Police. No connection has been established between the Tasering and Hyde's death, but the incident sparked controversy about the frequency of Taser use.

The review will involve 90 days of collecting data on policies and procedures related to the training, authorization and frequency of Taser use in Nova Scotia, as well as looking at research being conducted across Canada. After a report of the findings is published in February, a panel of experts chosen by the Justice Department will analyze the results and give advice to the minister.

Stephen Ayer, executive director of the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia, welcomes the Taser review, but said he will "demand" representatives with mental illness on the panel of experts. "Experts are experts to the point that they're able to study a phenomenon," he said. The phenomenon can only be studied through a person who lives with the illness, which is why the panel must include those with experience, he said. Karen Moerman agrees. "People with lived experience are experts," she said. Moerman, who has lived with psychoses, hopes the Taser review will ensure that people with mental illness are dealt with in a stepped manner, where the least force is always used first. "There should be no jump to, 'Gee, we don't know how to handle this person ... We better Taser them,'" she said.

Hyde's sister, Joanna Hyde, is skeptical of the investigation, calling it "a diversion from the real question." "I'm wondering if the Department of Justice is trying to get attention onto the Tasers to take away from attention on the judge, who made the decision to return my brother to the correctional centre (rather than sending him to a hospital)," she said.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are conducting a formal review of that incident, which they won't release until medical examiners finalize their report. That report could take between four to six months, the province told Joanna Hyde.

No comments: