You may have arrived here via a direct link to a specific post. To see the most recent posts, click HERE.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

EDITORIAL: Stop using tasers until we know more

November 26, 2008
Airdrie Echo, Airdrie, Alberta
Covy Moore, Covy's Concerns

Tasers are a hot button issue right now, with a number of very unexpected deaths connected to use of the non-lethal device in the past year, and with the utmost of respect to every law enforcement official in our country, I present to you my concerns.

I pitched the idea to write a news story on what is happening with these devices, but quickly found out that its not going to be easy to get any member of the RCMP to talk about the device, especially when that device is believed to be non-lethal.

I talked about the subject with some people in my office, and at home about the subject, and the general consensus was that if they won’t talk to the media about them, why are they allowed to use them?

In October of last year, Canada experienced a very tragic event that has brought the safety of these conducted energy weapons along with a whole host of other issues to the surface, when 40-year-old Robert Dziekanski was tasered at the Vancouver International Airport. Dziekanski died shortly after the incident.

This brought to light the safety issues with these devices, but the attention they have been getting has only gotten worse with a number of other deaths that have occurred since the Dziekanski incident.

Our police officers have one duty, and that is to ensure that the law is being abided by. Police officers are also just like you and I, and their personal safety is always paramount, which is a primary reason why the taser is not being talked about.

The taser delivers an electric shock to the person that it makes contact with, forcing many of the muscles in that body to tense up and stop working for a period of time, enabling police officers to approach and disarm or detain anyone who is threatening the people around them. In theory this is a fantastic device that has most likely saved countless lives, and given police officers piece of mind when entering a life-threatening situation.

But what happens when this valuable tool starts taking lives? I think that an immediate ban on all conducted energy weapons should be suspended until a full medical and technical analysis can be conducted on the weapons.

Police have the right to protect themselves from threats, just as much as you and I do, but in the end, it is a crime to kill another human being, and if tasers continue to kill, whether it be a high tension stand off with a very dangerous criminal, or an immigrant who doesn’t speak our nations language, who are the criminals?

Obviously, Amnesty International has been all over the issue, with the same request in having a study done to determine the problems with this weapon, and have them dealt with, but what are the police to do in the mean time?

I know of paintball guns that can be fitted with mace balls, which if used correctly, should assist in disarming a suspect. I have also heard of guns that fire moderately weighted beanbags that often will have a criminal on the ground in agony. What about that sidearm that the police carry? I don’t condone shooting people with guns for any reason, but with the current lethality of tasers, I would prefer a mace ball, beanbag or bullet to one of my extremities, as my chance at survival is greater than a tasing.

No comments: