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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Police psychologist at taser Inquiry is highly critical of way Tasers are used, promoted

May 13, 2008
The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER — A police psychologist who has worked with police services around the world harshly criticized Taser International on Monday and also slammed police for the way they use the weapon.

Mike Webster, who once trained as an RCMP officer and now teaches police how to manage crises, gave a presentation at a provincial inquiry into the use of Tasers.

Webster later told reporters outside the inquiry that he's embarrassed by the way the Taser has been used.

He mentioned a recent incident involving an 82-year-old man who was jolted with the weapon as he lay in his hospital bed in Kamloops, B.C.

"I am embarrassed to be associated with an organization that Tasers sick old men in the hospital," he said.

"Some Taser incidents are embarrassing," he earlier told the inquiry. "This is not how we would like our police services to behave."

Webster said Taser International has done a brilliant marketing job and created a lucrative business based on selling Tasers as a necessary tool for police confronted by people with a disorder called excited delirium.

He said excited delirium as a medical condition is not recognized in a generally accepted manual of mental disorders - an opinion that a psychiatrist has already shared at the inquiry.

Webster said he was not "anti police" and conceded there was a use for Tasers.

"There is a place for Tasers and that is the last thing before you have to shoot somebody."

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