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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Conducted Energy Weapons - Testing Initiated by the RCMP on Electric Output Issues

December 8, 2008
Government of Canada Newsroom - news.gc.ca

OTTAWA, December 8, 2008—Given concerns raised by recent CBC/Radio Canada broadcasts, the RCMP has undertaken a review of its national inventory of Conducted Energy Weapons (CEWs) and has identified 24 TASER Model X-26 units acquired by the RCMP prior to January 1st, 2006. It has directed that these units be removed from service and undergo testing.

On December 4th and 5th, 2008, CBC/Radio Canada aired several reports focusing on performance tests they commissioned on 44 Model X-26 TASER CEWs at an independent U.S. testing facility. The RCMP was referenced as being a major Canadian user of the weapon.

A key focus of the reports was that four of the 44 X-26 TASER units the CBC had tested generated electrical currents above the manufacturer’s specifications and accepted variance limits of 15%. Each of those four CEWs were manufactured prior to 2005. The CBC did not provide information on where the tested units came from other than to say they were provided by seven U.S. police agencies.

In the course of preparing its reports the CBC met with the RCMP, on November 4th, 2008, and indicated that test results showed that some TASER units were operating outside the manufacturer’s specifications.

As the RCMP’s primary concern is public safety and officer safety, the RCMP asked the CBC on four separate occasions for a copy of its test results. The CBC declined those requests until December 5th.

In the absence of further information from the CBC, the RCMP collected a sample of 30 CEWs from its Divisions across the country and contracted an accredited, independent research centre, MPB Technologies Electronic Centre, to test them.

The 30 TASER units tested for the RCMP included fifteen M-26 units and fifteen X-26 units. Testing was completed on December 5th, 2008. Although we are awaiting a final report, the RCMP can confirm that all our CEW units tested were within the manufacturer’s specifications.

The steps taken by the RCMP to remove some CEWs from service and to conduct tests is part of our ongoing effort to ensure our policies and practices continue to be appropriate and are based on the best available information.

In the last year the RCMP has made a number of improvements to its CEW policies, training, practices and reporting requirements, including:

Restricting the use of CEWs to incidents involving threats to officer or public safety;

Requiring RCMP officers to be re-certified annually on the use of CEWs; and,

Enhanced use of force reporting.

The RCMP believes that when used appropriately by officers who are properly trained, the CEW is a useful tool which contributes to the safety and security of the public and our police officers.

The RCMP will continue to work with the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, other police services, medical experts and others to further enhance our policies, training, practices and reporting requirements relating to use of force, including the CEW.

The RCMP therefore welcomes the announcement by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) Board of Directors that they will convene a summit of key national players in mid-January to develop a CACP policy on CEWs. The RCMP is looking forward to participating in the process.

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