June 25, 2008
B.C.'s police complaints commissioner, Dirk Ryneveld, has told the Braidwood Inquiry that Tasers may be misclassified as prohibited weapons, as opposed to prohibited firearms, as defined under Canada's criminal code.
Ryneveld told the public inquiry on Wednesday the distinction is important because the classification determines how police use the controversial stun guns.
"If this is a prohibited firearm, it must be authorized for use. And if their paperwork is misclassified as a prohibited weapon, then the restrictions on its use, and the reporting and the training and the certification don’t apply to the Taser, whereas perhaps it should," said Ryneveld.
He also told the inquiry police need to use Tasers with an appreciation that they could be lethal, not with the belief that they are a safe, non-lethal alternative to a gun.
The inquiry heard Reyneveld’s opinion that Tasers have become a 'tool of convenience' and although the stun guns shouldn't be banned outright, they do require more study and training.
Reyneveld said he's had a long-standing concern with how stun guns are used by police forces, adding that issues about the weapon that were raised several years ago still haven't been resolved.
While he didn't recommend a moratorium, Ryneveld said the Taser needs to be placed higher on the use-of-force scale than it currently is. A national protocol should be devised to help all users understand when a stun gun should be used, he said.
The public inquiry was called in the wake of the death of Robert Dziekanski after he was shocked with an RCMP Taser at Vancouver International Airport last October. A report on the general use of Tasers by police is expected this fall.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
June 25, 2008