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Friday, December 19, 2008

Chief puts support behind Tasers

December 19, 2008
By Laura Drake, Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON — Police Chief Mike Boyd says he doesn't know of any officers who have chosen not to carry Tasers, despite testimony earlier this week from an officer at a disciplinary hearing that he doesn’t carry the device anymore due to potential controversy.

“I’m personally not aware of any officer recently that has tried to turn one in,” Boyd said at Thursday’s police commission meeting.

On Tuesday, Const. Mike Wasylyshen testified as a witness at a police disciplinary hearing that he has stopped carrying a Taser due to past criticisms of the devices.

Boyd was asked about the report at the meeting and asked to clarify whether or not officers can opt out of carrying Tasers.

The chief said since this is the first time the department has faced the issue, it has no precedent on how to deal with an officer who does not want to carry a Taser.

“We need to have a talk with these officers to see if that’s just talk or a firm position,” he said.

Boyd said he would prefer to see officers carrying Tasers, since he is convinced the devices have saved lives in the city and in Canada.

The Edmonton Police Service has 369 Tasers in service. Of those, 161 will be tested as part of an Alberta-wide study of pre-2006 models to check if the devices fire higher-than-expected voltages.

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