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Monday, September 15, 2008

Cops eyeing new arsenal

September 15, 2008

Bad guys could be brought to their knees by stink bombs, electrified nets or even glue, should city police choose to adopt weapons being tested by U.K. scientists. And doing so is a possibility - providing such tools pass stringent safety tests - says the Edmonton Police Association's director.

"The service is always looking for options," Staff Sgt. Bill Newton said. "Anything other than the final solution - which is deadly force - is a possibility. It just has to be effective."

Right now, a British government department is testing a number of "less-lethal" weapons that could soon be used by police across the pond. Sticky nets, immobilizing glue guns and stink bombs fired from guns are among the gadgets being tested by a scientific development branch. Nets send electric shocks through culprits, while glue guns render perps immobile, allowing cops to slap cuffs on them.

Of course, extensive testing would precede the use of those weapons in Edmonton, Newton said. "Let's get all the work (and research) done before we roll things out," he said. "The whole Taser thing has been an object lesson."

Critics have been outspoken about the use of electric stun guns countrywide, a debate that was resparked after a high-profile death at the Vancouver airport last year. In October, Robert Dziekanski died after being zapped by Mounties more than once. Since Canadian police began using the weapons in 1999, about 20 people have died.

But not everyone's certain stink bombs and glue guns would be a realistic alternative. "They're ineffective," said criminologist Bill Pitt, adding: "A lot of these things are still in the experimental stages.

"There's a search to try to find something that's going to replace (stun guns). I think in the end, they'll probably go back to the old nightstick."

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