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Thursday, December 11, 2008

City police plan to review Taser safety

Yesterday, Barrie police announced that their tasers were working properly and that they would not pull them off the shelf. Today, the Barrie Examiner reports that Barrie police plan to review its tasers.

So, which is it???

Posted By RAYMOND BOWE, Barrie Examiner

Barrie police will review its Tasers after a report found some older models provided by U. S. law enforcement generated an electrical current exceeding manufacturer specifications.

"It would be foolish for us not to look into it," Barrie Police Chief Wayne Frechette said yesterday. "If we're using something that is causing trouble, we'll stop using them until they're working properly."

The CBC found that four of 41 working X-26 units-- all manufactured before 2005 -- generated a current exceeding specifications, in some instances 50 per cent stronger than intended.

Taser International disputes the public broadcaster's findings.

The Barrie police department has 36 Tasers, including 29 X-26 models, but none of which it says were made prior to 2006. The other seven are M-26 units.

Tasers emit a blueish bolt of 50,000 volts, snapping loudly at the end of the device.

Barrie police began using Tasers in 2004. They are carried by tactical officers and patrol sergeants.

Yesterday, Frechette asked Insp. James Farrell, head of operational support, to look into the department's Tasers, to see when they were manufactured and whether there are any issues.

"It's not the sort of thing you want to find out a year later (if there was a problem)," Frechette said. "We will do anything we have to do to make sure they're up to scratch."

Tests are conducted daily to ensure the unit's battery and internal display are functioning correctly. An internal test is done monthly, where all of the information on a unit's memory is downloaded.

Any malfunctioning Tasers are removed from service and sent back to the manufacturer for repair or replacement.

Last year, Barrie police officers responded to more than 50,000 calls, and Tasers were used 31 times, which includes displaying the weapon as a deterrent. Their use has declined each year since their introduction.

December 10, 2008
Barrie Advance


The Barrie Police force isn't pulling its tasers off the shelf.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and other police forces in British Columbia decided Wednesday to stop using Tasers made before 2006, to have them tested for their voltage.

The 24 Taser Model X-26, which was sold across Canada, is under review because when used, their current measured at double the percentage listed. The Fredericton Police Force is also running tests on 20 of its Tasers.

“Their Tasers are not working properly and none of ours are affected by the decision made in BC,” said Sgt. Robert Allan with the Barrie Police Service. “We are using ones that are up to date.”

Barrie officers use the 29 Model X-26 Tasers. Allan couldn’t say how often a Taser was used this year, but said the numbers have declined each year. In 2007, Barrie officers fired a Taser 20 times – using it twice on four occasions. Officers also pulled a Taser out for intimidation 11 times last year.

The last time a Taser was reported being used was in June, when officers were called to a rooming house on McDonald Street about a man threatening to stab other tenants. When police confronted the 34 year old, he became upset and violent. Officers used the Taser to make a safe arrest.

Allan said officers are trained to recognize when a Taser isn’t working properly, and should report it. Tasers are examined daily, and internal tests are done each month to ensure they are still working.

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