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Friday, August 29, 2008

Put tasers away until study is released, professor tells cops

August 27, 2008
By MICHAEL STAPLES, The Daily Gleaner (New Brunswick)

Police forces should impose a moratorium on stun guns until ongoing studies into their safety are completed, says an associate professor of criminology at St. Thomas University. Michael Boudreau said police forces across the country should stop using tasers until a report by the Canadian Police Research Centre is released.

The much-anticipated report was expected to be unveiled this week at a meeting of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police in Montreal but will remain under wraps until next year. The report will be subjected to an independent peer review and will only be released in 2009, with a longer-term study due in 2010, Steve Palmer, the executive director of the Canadian Police Research Centre, said earlier this week.

"There have been far too many deaths related to the use of tasers," Boudreau said. "So, if the police feel that they need more time to study this issue, fine, but in the interim, rather than declare that tasers are an acceptable intermediate force option, police forces across the country should impose a moratorium on their use until the report is released. Otherwise, a cloud of doubt will continue to hang over the effectiveness of tasers."

Boudreau said it would appear that the police, including the RCMP, are finally listening to the mounting criticism of taser use and are taking the time to study this issue. In addition to the ongoing study, the provinces need to commission independent bodies, separate from the police services, to conduct detailed investigations of taser use, he said.

"While further study into taser use is certainly needed, a delay this long means that full police accountability of taser use will not be forthcoming," he said.

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