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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

160 new tasers for Manitoba RCMP

May 20, 2008

WINNIPEG - The RCMP in Manitoba is buying more Tasers for its officers.

The provincial division of the police force has spent about $160,000 to buy and ship 160 newer models of the controversial weapons, which will increase the number of Tasers it uses by about 10 per cent.

Documents about the purchase say 26 of the Tasers will "increase the inventory" of units that are in use, while the rest will replace older models.

The new Tasers will be smaller, which the documents say will make it easier for plainclothes or undercover officers to conceal.

The documents were released to the Winnipeg Free Press under the federal Access to Information Act.

Manitoba RCMP spokeswoman Sgt. Line Karpish says the new purchases mean there will be 237 Tasers in use among approximately 1,000 officers in the province.

While the documents say the new Taser is 60 per cent smaller and 60 per cent lighter than the current Taser used by the RCMP, they say it has the same peak of 50,000 volts.

Taser use is a controversial subject following the high-profile death last October of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport. The 40-year-old, who did not speak English, was videotaped by a bystander after he was shocked by RCMP officers and lay convulsing on the floor of the airport, later dying.

Last Thursday at an inquiry into the incident, Dziekanski's mother wept as she urged an end to Taser use.

Manitoba Mounties started using Tasers in 2003.

The weapons are made at Arizona-based Taser International, said Karpish, and then they're fired and tested, catalogued and inventoried by an armourer in Regina.

Karpish said that no additional training will be required for officers using the newer model of Taser, beyond a two-day session required for all officers using the weapons.

The report notes other Taser products "would require a major retraining initiative at significant cost to the RCMP."

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