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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Police board delays new taser use policy

July 9, 2008
By Jennifer O'Meara, Northumberland News

COBOURG (Ontario) - A police Taser use policy from the Cobourg Police Services Board has been delayed. The board has decided it wants to look at establishing a policy regarding Taser use," said chairman Bryan Baxter. "We've deferred it because there are two or three studies underway."

The police board decided it needs a police policy on Taser use, after an April report on the state of Tasers in Canada from the Canadian Association of Police Boards.

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

The board has decided to hold off on forming a Taser policy until several current Canadian studies are completed, especially the Ontario government report due this fall.

"We decided to defer it until we have the benefit of the provincial report," said Mr. Baxter.

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 who were shocked, including the man who died immediately after being shocked in Vancouver's International Airport in late-2007, Taser use has become controversial.

Cobourg police senior officers do have a policy for Taser use, said Mr. Baxter. In the local police force, only Cobourg police sergeants and their second-in-command carry Tasers. All Cobourg officers who carry Tasers are retrained every year and have to re-qualify to carry the weapon.

A policy for Taser use and training is expected to come back to the Cobourg Police Service Board later this year.

"We thought it would be prudent to wait," said Mr. Baxter.

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