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

Friday, December 12, 2008

Belleville's stun guns are safe

December 12, 2008

Electronic stun guns used by Belleville police are not those noted in a CBC news report that found older Tasers emitted more power than the manufacturer promises. All of the six Tasers currently in use by the service were "purchased in the fall of 2006," said Belleville police Acting Chief Brian Harder.

Several police agencies across the country began removing some of the devices following a CBC News and Radio-Canada investigation that revealed some tasers purchased before 2005 delivered a higher level of electricity than initially noted by the manufacturer.

In Belleville, a limited number of specially-trained officers began using Tasers in 2004. However, Harder said those devices were exchanged for new models two years ago as part of a replacement program. "So we don't have any of those Tasers mentioned in the study," Harder said.

In a series of CBC-commissioned tests on 41 Tasers, four of the units delivered "significantly more current than Taser International says is possible -- in some cases, up to 50 per cent more than what is specified on the devices," according to the study.

At the city police department, only members of the tactical team and sergeants are specially trained and permitted to use the devices -- in a typical day, there are three strapped to officers on duty at any given time.

"The Taser itself is a non-lethal weapon," Harder said, "and just one of many tools we as police have at our disposal." When police first began using Tasers, statistics were kept as to whether officers "pointed or discharged" the device, he said. "So, in 2004, the Taser was used seven times -- that means we either pointed it at someone or used it." In each of the following two years, Belleville police reported the weapon was "pointed or discharged" a total of nine times.

In 2007, the department changed how statistics were kept: Tasers used by Belleville police were pulled from their holster 11 times and discharged six times. To date this year, police reported nine incidents in which a Taser was used to subdue someone. Considering officers respond to an average of 20,000 occurrences during the course of a year, "that's a pretty good record," Harder said.

"And we've never had any issues with its capabilities or the fact that it's harmed anyone other than to stop assaultive behaviour."

No comments: