Canadian Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security releases its Study of the Conductive Energy Weapon-Taser
June 18, 2008
The Standing Committee on
Public Safety and National Security
has the honour to present its
Pursuant to its mandate under Standing Order 108(2), the Committee has studied The Conductive Energy Weapon and has agreed to report the following:
The HTML version of this report will be available soon. In the meantime, the Committee is pleased to make available the report entitled STUDY OF THE CONDUCTIVE ENERGY WEAPON–TASER® (.PDF, 543 KB) in printable format.
The Committee recommends that the RCMP restrict the use of the Taser gun by classifying it, effective no later than December 15, 2008, as an “impact weapon” rather than an intermediate weapon, so that its use can be authorized only in situations where the subject is displaying assaultive behaviour or posing a threat of death or grievous bodily harm to the police, himself or the public. This restriction should not be lifted before independent research has indicated that use of the Taser gun poses no unreasonable risk for the subject. In the event that the RCMP does not implement this recommendation by December 15, 2008, the Committee has agreed to introduce a motion in the House of Commons calling for an immediate moratorium on the use of Taser guns by the RCMP.
The Committee recommends that the RCMP revise its policy on use of the Taser gun to include clear and strict usage guidelines, as is the case for firearms, that will include clear restrictions on multiple discharges.
The Committee recommends that the RCMP modify its training on Taser gun use to place more stress on the potential risks of death and injury that such use may entail and on the gaps in the knowledge about this technology and its effects.
The Committee recommends that the RCMP amend its policy by introducing the requirement that Taser gun use certification be renewed at least every two years.
The Committee recommends that the RCMP improve the training of its members on mental health and addiction issues. The RCMP should make sure that the training given to its members reflects the findings of independent research in these areas, particularly in regard to the relationship between mental health disorders, addiction and use of the Taser gun.
The Committee recommends that, wherever possible, the RCMP make use of psychiatric support staff to assist them in providing assistance when an intervention is expected to involve a person suffering from mental illness or drug addiction.
The Committee recommends that Health Canada, through the Health Human Resource Strategy and the Canadian Mental Health Commission, look into the lack of psychiatric programs and drug addiction programs.
The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada encourage the three federally subsidized research councils (Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) to fund scientific research into Taser gun technology as well as comparative research on use-of-force methods.
The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada commission independent, scientific studies on Taser gun safety and encourage that these results be submitted to peer review journals.
The Committee recommends that Statistics Canada’s Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics be given the mandate to create and manage a national database on in-custody deaths, including, at least, the method of restraint used, the authority involved and the context of incidents, such as mental illness or drug use.
The Committee recommends that Statistics Canada’s Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics also be given the mandate to create and manage a database on the use of the Taser gun and other restraint methods.
The Committee recommends that the RCMP include in its annual report to Parliament data on the use of Taser gun and other use-of-force methods. The RCMP must, at least, provide the following information about Taser gun use in its annual report: the number of officers accredited to handle Taser guns; the number and nature of incidents involving Taser gun use; the type of use (demonstration, probe mode, stun mode etc.); the number of complaints received; the injuries related to its use; and the number of deaths soon after Taser gun use.
The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada recognize the urgency of the situation by introducing in the House of Commons, as soon as possible, legislation to establish a civilian oversight body for RCMP activities. This body must be given the mandate to systematically review all RCMP activities, including use-of-force guidelines and practices, and process complaints involving RCMP members. It must also be vested with broad powers, including the power to decide what information is necessary to fulfill its mandate and to compel any federal, provincial, municipal or private organization or official to produce documents and to appear before it.
The Committee recommends that the Canada Border Services Agency, working with Canada’s international airports authorities, implement a system designed to facilitate communication between staff working in controlled areas and those in public areas in Canada’s international airports. This system must allow people in the reception areas or in the controlled areas in airports to find passengers, while respecting the passengers’ privacy and safety.
The Committee recommends that the Canada Border Services Agency install reconciliation software that would make it possible to follow international passengers from the first check point in the Customs Controlled Area (that is, the primary inspection line) until they leave the area.
The Committee recommends that all Canada’s international airport authorities ensure a sufficient number of telephones in terminals that provide access to interpretation services when needed.
The Committee recommends that the Chair of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security call a meeting six months following the tabling of this report in order to receive a progress report on the implementation of our recommendations involving the RCMP.