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Friday, September 12, 2008

RCMP relied too much on taser manufacturer info: report

September 12, 2008
CBC News

RCMP officials relied too heavily on information provided by manufacturers when they were developing their own stun gun policies and training programs, an independent review concludes.

The review of the Mounties' policies on the use of stun guns, known by their brand name Taser, was prepared on the orders of RCMP Commissioner William Elliott. The review was finished in June, but only made public on Friday.

"There was an over-reliance on research carried out by [stun gun] manufacturers and/or the views of police services relying primarily on the research conducted or sponsored by the manufacturers," the review states in its conclusion.

"While manufacturers understandably need to provide (and are entitled to do so) information to potential customers or clients as part of their marketing and promotion efforts, the policing community needs to be assiduous in assessing the manufacturer's information."

Taser International, the American maker of Taser products, has done extensive research on its products and defends them as safe. But Tasers, which are used by 73 police forces across the country, have been linked, although not directly, to at least 20 deaths in Canada. The most controversial case came last year when 40-year-old Robert Dziekanski of Poland died at Vancouver International Airport shortly after the RCMP shocked him. Dziekanski's death renewed calls for a moratorium on Taser use.

Didn't consult national medical agencies

The independent review, done by a group of independent consultants, also concludes that the RCMP did an "inadequate" review of the literature available on Tasers but had an "over-reliance" on anecdotal information. And while the RCMP contacted two provincial schizophrenia societies for information, they should have contacted national medical and mental health associations, the review finds.

The review also concludes that while the RCMP relied on research done by professional police officers with some technical understanding of Tasers and practical expertise, the force should have sought the assistance of trained research and policy analysts.

"Having such practical knowledge is not a substitute for training in research and policy analysis," the review says.

The Toronto Star was the first media outlet to obtain the review, which was provided to the newspaper on Thursday through an Access to Information request. Some 16 pages were removed from the report before it was released to the Star, including the recommendations the review made.

The review comes on the heels of a Taser report issued in June by Paul Kennedy, head of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP. He concluded that only experienced officers should be handling the weapons.

1 comment:

Kate said...

This may explain why the report that was supposed be unveiled at the Police Chief's Conference was held back for peer review.

The 2004 British Columbia Taser report was not only co-authored by a policeman who had accepted fees from Taser International but was also so bad that its featured graph showing 4 deaths following 4372 uses, calculated from data taken from T.I. files, included 60 tasered animals into the calculation, including 1 raccoon.