December 12, 2008
Editorial, Times Transcript
There should be no waffling on the question of whether to test tasers now in use by police forces across New Brunswick.
The stun-gun weapons have become increasingly controversial due to the number of deaths reported in the last few years, including a Moncton man who was subdued with a taser at a downtown bar in 2005.
Independent tests suggest some of the guns -- perhaps those manufactured more than three years ago -- are discharging more electric current than the manufacturer's recommended guidelines. This is akin to a police department not being sure whether the bullets they are firing at a suspect are rubber bullets or the type that explode on impact.
If the degree of force these weapons discharge is not known -- or is inconsistently applied -- every police force using tasers in New Brunswick should have every one of the weapons tested by an independent lab.
Even if all of their tasers pass the discharge test, we urge police officers to use the weapons in only the most severe circumstances. The case of Robert Dziekanski of Poland, who was tasered and died at the Vancouver Airport in 2007, should have been a sobering wake-up call to police officers everywhere.
Even a well-calibrated taser is still a powerful instrument that should be reserved as a weapon of last resort for volatile circumstances.
Police have several other weapons and strategies at their disposal. We fear tasers are still used as a matter of course, instead of a means of protection for both officers and the public.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
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