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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

RCMP should end use of tasers: Zaccardelli

September 3, 2008
CBC News

Canada's national police force should end its controversial use of stun guns, former RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli says.

Zaccardelli said he supported the use of stun guns, commonly known as Tasers, during his seven-year reign as commissioner because they were simply another tool for policing.

But given the recent controversy surrounding police force's use of Tasers in Canada, the former commissioner has reconsidered his position, he said.

"And you know, after all that I've thought about it, I've come more and more to the conclusion that I'm not sure that having Tasers is worth the negative impact that it has on police forces in terms of public perception," he told the CBC's Peter Mansbridge.

"I think we should stop using it."

In interview that will air on The National Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET, Zaccardelli says the problem with the use of Tasers extends beyond public perception to a matter of safety and misuse.

"I'm very concerned between the perception and, in cases unfortunately where we've had misuse, that we have to seriously consider maybe taking away that," said Zaccardelli, who is now a senior officer at Interpol in France.

More than 2,800 Tasers are in use across the country by the 9,100-plus RCMP officers trained to use them.

The electric shock weapons — which unleash 50,000 volts of electricity and are designed to incapacitate a person — have come under intense international scrutiny since Robert Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant, died shortly after RCMP officers shocked him with a Taser and pinned him down at the Vancouver airport in October 2007. He was unarmed.

An analysis of 563 incidents by the Canadian Press last year found that three in four suspects shot with a Taser by the RCMP between 2002 and 2005 were unarmed.

In a report released in June, the House of Commons public safety and national security committee threatened to call for a moratorium on the use of stun guns if the RCMP doesn't begin restricting use of the weapons by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Paul Kennedy, the head of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, has called for Mounties with fewer than five years experience in the field to be banned from using Taser stun guns and for individuals who are zapped to get immediate medical treatment.


Anonymous said...

This is the same guy that lost his job for perjury. Wow this guy has no credibility.

Anonymous said...

What a pity that Mr. Zaccardelli did not speak up sooner...perhaps we might be seeing a lot more survivors of this hellish abuse had he been more forthcoming about his feelings during his tenure as "Top Dog/Gun/Taser" of the RCMP. After all these years have passed and a million tears have been shed by families and friends of the tasered dead, what's the point now? His opinion at this late date is about as useless as our hope that Shockwell Day will call for a moratorium on tasers any time soon. Riki Bagnell...Mother of Robert Bagnell...Victim #58