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Friday, August 22, 2008

Police chiefs to talk tasers

August 22, 2008
Canwest News Service

MONTREAL (CNS) -- Police chiefs will spend three days in Montreal next week talking about reasonable accommodation, racial profiling and Taser use, among other subjects.

The theme for the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, which starts on Sunday and runs until Wednesday, is better diversity management through partnership. The theme was chosen a year ago, but it couldn't be more timely considering recent events.

A Montreal police officer shot and killed Fredy Villanueva, 18, in Montreal North last week, prompting a riot in the streets and criticism that members of ethnic minority groups who live in that area are often harassed by police.

Last fall, the RCMP's methods of dealing with immigrants was called into question when Robert Dziekanski died at Vancouver International Airport. He didn't speak any English and was trying to meet his mother who had come to the airport to pick him up. However, after many hours of waiting, he had become agitated. He died after RCMP officers tried to subdue him with a Taser stun gun.

The use of Taser guns is under review and police chiefs are expected to be given an update on the findings at the conference next week. However, it's unclear if media will get access to that report. Reporters were told Thursday they won't have access to the conference, but might be able to interview some of its participants.

"It's always been like that," said Patrice Cardinal of the Surete du Quebec, a spokesperson for the conference's organizing committee. "The conferences are really just for participants of the conference."

Reporters will be invited to meet some of the event's sponsors, and there will be a news conference on Wednesday so the association can present recommendations on police policy made by conference participants.

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