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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Police board to review local taser use

May 1, 2008
By Jennifer O'Meara, Northumberland News

COBOURG - The Cobourg Police Service Board is asking Acting Chief Paul Sweet to look into the police service's policy on Taser use, after a report on the state of Tasers in Canada from the Canadian Association of Police Boards came to the board.

"Reading this report it's obvious the board does have an oversight role to play in this issue," said police board member Greg Kay.

The report recommends police boards work with the service's management to make sure training and policies are regularly updated with the latest information; monitoring is good so those in charge of policy know how Tasers are being used; and those making the policy are keeping up to date on medical research into in-custody deaths.

Conducted Energy Devices (CED), or Tasers, are an electro-shock weapon used to stun someone from a distance. According to the report, the device has a great appeal to police because it can incapacitate subjects from a distance, limiting injuries to the officer and suspect. After several high profile deaths of suspects after being shocked, including the man who died immediately after being shocked in Vancouver's International Airport in late-2007, Taser use has become controversial.

In the local police force, only Cobourg police sergeants and their second-in-command carry Tasers, said Acting Deputy Chief Dave Cromlish.

All Cobourg officers who carry Tasers are retrained every year and have to re-qualify to carry the weapon, added Chief Sweet.

Tasers were first brought into the Cobourg police force at the end of 2006 and Deputy Chief Cromlish does not believe the new equipment was used that year. In 2007 officers used the Tasers twice and so far in 2008 police have used a Taser once, he added.

"No injuries have been reported," said Deputy Chief Cromlish.

Chief Sweet will bring more details on Taser policy and training by local police to the police board at the next board meeting on May 29.

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