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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

City police using Tasers more often

February 11, 2009
SARAH DEETH, Peterborough Examiner

Use of force by city police officers was down in 2008 from 2007, but the use of the Taser has increased.

According to a 2008 use of force report presented to the police services board during yesterday’s meeting, the Taser was drawn and pointed eight times and deployed four of those times.

In 2007 the Taser was drawn and pointed four times and deployed three times.

The report prompted board members Nancy Martin and Mary Smith to express concerns about the force’s policy on the Taser and whether the weapon would be used on youths.

Deputy Chief Ken Jackman said he would be leery of coming out and saying youths wouldn’t be Tasered.

“It should only be used for combative circumstances, not for compliance,” Jackman said.

There may be an instance when a youth is armed and the Taser is needed, he said.

The family of a teenaged girl from a remote First Nation community in Northern Ontario announced last week they are suing the Ontario Provincial Police for $500,000 for Tasering the girl, who has fetal alcohol syndrome, in her cell last summer when she was 14. The incident has prompted calls for a ban on Tasering teens.

Jackman acknowledged there was a lot of police misuse of the Taser, but said that was mainly happening in the United States.

“But it ultimately hurts all of us,” he said.

There were a total of 41 incidents involving use of force by police officers, resulting in 57 use-of-force reports being filed.

Of those 41 incidents, 24 involved the use of a police-issued firearm.

In two of those incidents an animal was destroyed for either humane or public-safety interests, the board heard.

That’s a decrease from 2007, when 70 use-of-force incidents were reported.

Fifty-five of those offences involved the use of a service-issued firearm.

The board heard that the same number of animals were destroyed in 2008 and 2007.

Aerosol spray was used eight times to restrain combative persons in 2008, down from 14 in 2007.

The report states that there were no reported serious injuries to anyone as a result of force being used by a member of the police force.

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