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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Police forces in British Columbia and New Brunswick to test tasers

December 9, 2008
Globe and Mail - The Canadian Press

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 Mr. 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.

In New Brunswick, the Fredericton Police Force will also check voltage readings on conducted-energy devices used by its officers.

Constable Ralph Currie said Tuesday the department will have its tasers checked out by an independent tester.

The Fredericton force has 20 of the devices, which can produce 50,000 volts.

“We're looking at where we can have some independent testing done,” Constable Currie said. “We want to ensure that what we have and what we are using does by documentation meet with the manufacturer's recommended guidelines.

“We're pretty confident that the tasers we're using do meet those guidelines.”

The decisions come after recent tests commissioned by CBC News and Radio-Canada.

The tests found that out of 41 guns tested, four discharged more current than the manufacturer Taser International said was possible.

The examination was conducted for the CBC and Radio-Canada by National Technical Systems, a U.S.-based firm, using X26 model tasers. The weapons were from seven American departments that agreed to participate on condition of anonymity.

The X26 is widely used by the RCMP and many other police forces across North America. The four tasers that malfunctioned were amongst the oldest, manufactured prior to 2005.

Fredericton's Constable Currie said the force is checking its tasers and looking at the manufacturer's dates.

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