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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ontario orders testing of tasers

December 16, 2008
Tanya Talaga, Toronto Star

The Ontario government has quietly ordered a new review of some Tasers to make sure they are functioning properly.

Concerns arose following a CBC report that one model of the weapon, the X26, used by police forces sent out a higher electrical voltage than specified by the manufacturer. In British Columbia last week, all weapons acquired before Jan. 1, 2006, were pulled from service for further testing.

Results of an earlier Ontario review on all conducted-energy weapons should be out in the next few weeks, said Tony Brown, a spokesperson with the community safety and corrections ministry.

There are an estimated 2,000 conducted-energy weapons – models X26 and the M26 – in Ontario, Brown said, adding that number does not include the amount of RCMP devices in the province. "The ministry has asked police services to do an inventory and have tested X26 models manufactured before Dec. 31, 2005," said Brown.

The U.S.-based manufacturer of the device, Taser International, sent the Star a statement, responding to the tests done for the CBC: "It is unfortunate that false allegations based on scientifically flawed data can create such uncertainty. Taser International stands behind the quality and safety of its products ... Taser International welcomes proper testing of its devices and has provided its factory test protocols to test laboratories in Canada so police agencies can avoid the scientific errors made by the CBC."

Tasers are approved for use by the corrections ministry for police front-line supervisors, perimeter control and containment teams, and tactical units and hostage rescue teams. No deaths in Ontario are directly attributed to the use of conducted-energy weapons, said Brown. The Toronto Police Service last week said it would not conduct safety checks on any of its Tasers because all of the roughly 400 devices used by Toronto police officers were bought after Jan. 1, 2006.

Police use conducted-energy weapons because they are a less lethal option when dealing with dangerous or self-destructive people, said Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Pierre Chamberland.

Last week, B.C. prosecutors announced there would be no charges against four RCMP officers who used a Taser to stun Polish citizen Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport before he died in October 2007.

A review found Dziekanski's death was not directly caused by the Taser jolts but they were a contributing factor, along with heart disease, alcohol withdrawal, and decreased ability to breathe due to an officer kneeling on him.


Anonymous said...

Keep up the excellent work!! It is very wonderful to see people come together about something the general public sees as wrong!
This scandeloeus world will seeall truths soon!
A sincere heartfelt Thank you!!

Rob said...

Keep in mind that the "testing" ordered by the province isn't really testing. Individual police departments say the provincial directive doesn't require them to conduct scientific tests of their Tasers. Kingston's police chief first said he would not have the force's X26s tested, then changed his mind this week, but only because of public perception, not because he thinks there's anything to be concerned about. You can follow my take on the Taser debate at my blog: www.cancrime.com.