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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Memo to tasering transit coppers

April 20, 2008
The Province

Interdepartmental memorandum

Re: Use of Tasers

To: Officers of TransLink Police, a.k.a. Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority Police Service (a.k.a. "you")

From: Chief of TransLink Police, General Larry "Buck" Stryker

Present situational: In Tactical Command Operations Coordination Centre (my van)

Priority: Top

- - - -

Fellow troopers,

As you know, the force is under fire because our Taser usage has become public through a Freedom of Information request.

Let me take this opportunity to remind you of the acceptable circumstances in which to deploy your Taser.

Number one would be:

- Encountering a Freedom of Information request.

Other situations in which your Taser can be deployed:

- On people who are violent.

- On people who could become violent and are in possession of potential weapons such as arms and legs.

- As a precautionary, on members of the public whom you suspect have their own Taser and might be planning to Taser themselves.

- And -- my favourite -- for resisting while being arrested for resisting arrest.

Do we Taser people for not paying their fare?


Do we Taser people for being non-compliant?


What does non-compliance consist of?

Non-compliance consists of saying "no" when we ask to see proof they paid their fare.

And non-compliance comes in a lot of other forms, too.

There is:

- Aggressive non-compliance.

- Passive non-compliance.

- Didn't-hear-the-question non-compliance.

- And shouting "Oh please don't Taser me, don't Taser me" in a way that could undermine the public's confidence in TransLink Police non-compliance.

One particular example of non-compliance we've been criticized for is when we Tasered a civilian for not letting go of a SkyTrain rail when we asked him to.

How did Tasering him protect the public in that instance?

Well, what if his non-compliance encouraged the world-class non-compliers of the world -- and the next day al-Qaida was holding a SkyTrain rail and wouldn't let go? Or the communist horde? Or Iran?

That would not only have profound implications on Canada's sovereignty but also mean major inconvenience for commuters.

This is not to say there aren't occasions when you should refrain from using your Taser.

Inappropriate Taser use:

- To reheat coffee or make toast during break.

- Re-charge a personal digital music device.

- In the context of combatting flies, mosquitoes or unwanted body hair.

- To light a post-tryst pair of cigarettes.

We do not think the controversy over our Taser usage is going to have any lasting negatory affect on the force.

This week we'll still, as planned, be delivering our request for the laser bazookas to TransLink board members.

And we remain confident they'll comply.

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