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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Taser guidelines needed

August 12, 2008
Ian Robertson, Toronto Sun

Toronto's police bosses are seeking support from colleagues across Canada to set standards for the use of Tasers by officers coast-to-coast.

Criticism of the high-voltage alternatives to guns used by police to subdue unruly suspects has intensified since the recent deaths of two men.

"The problem is there is different training standards and different reporting procedures," said Dr. Alok Mukherjee, chairman of the Toronto Police Services Board.

While many police boards have set guidelines for officers, as Toronto did, some have no standards and others left the matter of Taser use to their police chiefs, he said. The issue became particularly controversial after the deaths of an irate traveller at Vancouver International Airport Oct. 14, 2008, and an accused 17-year-old thief in Winnipeg on July 22. In Toronto's most recent Tasering, an almost-naked 38-year-old upset when city workers tried to raze a shed at his Secord Ave. home was jolted by police. He was later accused of threatening to kill police with a machete.

The Toronto board's recommendation for a working group to study nation-wide standards will be one of eight topics of a conference here this weekend. About 200 delegates are due at the Canadian Association of Police Boards conference, starting Friday at the Toronto Hilton Hotel.

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