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Monday, January 12, 2009

EDITORIAL: Police stay mum on key issues

January 12, 2009
Editorial - The Amherst Daily News

As concern over Taser use grows, police agencies would be advised not to prevent the public from seeking information on the issue.

A new report on freedom of information laws, released Friday, showed that police forces in this country continue to withhold key information from the public regarding the devices.

In a project launched by the Canadian Newspapers Association, 219 requests were sent to 22 municipal governments and their police services, 10 provinces and the Yukon and 11 federal departments and Crown corporations.

The requests were made by students acting as ordinary citizens.

Roughly 20 Canadians have died after being shot with the Tasers in the past few years. The Tasers can be a valuable tool, when used with discretion. But there are fears that more and more often, they are used by police officers in situations where they aren't warranted – sometimes with catastrophic results. They weren't intended as a crutch in non-lethal situations.

Most in Canada are familiar with the tragic death of Robert Dziekanski, 40, a Polish man who died several hours after he arrived at Vancouver International Airport in October 2007.

Dziekanski was on his way to Kamloops to live with his mother in the B.C. interior, but became agitated when he couldn't find his mother, whom he was supposed to meet at the airport. Subsequently, four RCMP officers Tasered the man.

Why four presumably well-trained police officers needed to Taser an unarmed man who had shown little if any signs of violent behaviour is one question; another is why would the RCMP provide false information to the public in the days after the incident, information that didn't line up at all with the chilling eyewitness video?

At the heart of the newspaper association's findings is this: some police agencies don't seem willing to give up information when requested, and that is not a good sign. Police have long wrapped a shroud of secrecy on the use of Tasers – now is the time for the public to demand more.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We know why the RCMP doesn't want to be forthcoming to the public-it's because they know they are in the wrong and don't want us to find out about it. They think that lying and hiding behind the truth will get them off the hook. I certainly hope not. Hopefully some people in power will press on for the truth and make the RCMP accountable.