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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

British Columbia police pull Tasers from service to test voltage

December 9, 2008
The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER -- B.C. municipal police forces will pull the plug on all Tasers acquired before 2006 over concerns they generate shocks higher than the manufacturer specifies.

Solicitor General John van Dongen said Tuesday that municipal chiefs of police unanimously agreed to the remove the shock weapons from service after testing showed the voltage sometimes exceeded the weapon specs.

B.C. Corrections, the provincial sheriff's service and transit police will also stop using the pre-2006 Tasers and van Dongen said RCMP, too, have called older Tasers in for immediate testing.

"The (conducted energy weapons) will be tested to ensure they generate electrical currents consistent with manufacturers' specifications," the provincial Public Safety Ministry said in a statement.

Each organization has undertaken an inventory to determine the number of devices that will need mandatory outside testing, the ministry said.

B.C. city police forces have agreed to research and establish a regular calibration for all stun guns and the solicitor general says RCMP in the province have been asked to comply.

"The provincial government has taken this action in the interest of public and officer safety following concerns raised by recent independent testing of the devices," the ministry statement said.

Use of the shock weapons by police forces has come under greater scrutiny since the death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport over a year ago after he was jolted at least twice with an RCMP Taser.

A public inquiry looking specifically at Dziekanski's death is scheduled to get underway in January.

The first part of the inquiry last fall looked generally at the use of shock weapons by law enforcement agencies. A report on that phase of the inquiry is expected soon.

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