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

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Toronto taser news - a delay or a victory?

From the March 6, 2008 edition of the Toronto Police Accountability bulletin:

Toronto Police Accountability Coalition had a successful public meeting on tasers on February 6. The speakers Andy Buxton, chair, Amnesty International Toronto organization; Naomi Klein, author of `The Shock Doctrine, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism'' and David Reville, advocate and builder of the psychiatric survivor movement.

In spite of a major snow storm sweeping into the city three or four hours before the meeting, about 70 people attended, and the discussion was lively. We agreed that when the next opportunity next came at City Hall, many of us would attend to stress the need to not allow more general police use of tasers. A video of the forum can be found here.

The next occasion arose very quickly: the chief put the matter of buying tasers for all front line officers on the agenda of the Toronto Police Services Board meeting for February 21. His report listed the taser's advantages - fewer officer shootings; fewer and less severe injuries all round; fewer public complaints; less police liability; and improved officer morale. It also claimed the taser causes no permanent harm or serious side-effects, although after the October death of Robert Dzerkanski in the Vancouver airport - he was repeatedly tasered - there's serious doubt about that.

Eight individuals quickly notified the Board they wished to speak in opposition to the matter. Then the chief quietly removed the report from the agenda. Mark Pugash, director of communications for the police, says it was a simple matter of the chief being out of the city at the time of the meeting, but apparently there is no date for which the matter has been rescheduled.

Will the matter resurface? The Board may be badly split on the issue - Board chair Alok Mukherjee has openly expressed his concerns about tasers. The Minister of Community Safety may have privately said he is not eager to approve the regulation needed to expand taser use in Ontario. Perhaps finding the necessary $8.6 million is a problem. We know there is strong and vocal public opposition.

For now, it means the Board is not going ahead with supplying tasers to all front line officers. Perhaps there should be a moratorium on taser use in Ontario; perhaps tasers should be restricted to the specially trained officers on the Emergency Task - those seem to be two strong options.

No comments: