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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Expand police access to Tasers: New report

I'm speechless. Thankfully, fellow blogger Excited-Delirium ISN'T. See:

Look what we have to try to deal with…

"No links, no studies, no findings" = BS

‘Tasers make officers safer’, eh?

February 21, 2009
By Janice Tibbetts, Canwest News Service

OTTAWA — Canada's police chiefs and front-line officers will call Tuesday for all police nationwide to have access to Taser stun guns, in a report that will set new national guidelines on when the controversial weapons should be used.

The study, to be released by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the Canadian Police Association, will also assert all officers should receive training in using Tasers, Canwest News Service has learned.

The number of municipal and provincial officers who are armed with and trained in usage of the guns varies from force to force, with some provinces banning them among front-line officers and restricting usage to supervisors or tactical team members.

The call for expanded eligibility follows an announcement last week from the RCMP that the national force has reined in the use of Tasers, saying they should only be used on suspects who pose a danger to police or the public.

The guns have been blamed for more than 20 deaths in Canada.

The report Tuesday is expected to reinforce the police position that Tasers have saved lives and they are a safer alternative to using deadly force to subdue a subject who is believed to be dangerous.

The two police organizations commissioned the study last year, in the wake of the high-profile death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, who died in October 2007 after RCMP officers Tasered him several times at the Vancouver airport.

In a position paper last month, the Canadian Police Association called for all front-line officers to be equipped with Tasers, but the organization has pulled back from its stance because it would suggest that forces should rush out and buy the stun guns for the country's 64,000 officers.

Rather, all officers should be trained and eligible to use the weapons, says the pending report. The document contains only guidelines because rules on Taser use are set by individual governments and forces. Police are also expected to compare Tasers to other weapons and examine research on whether Tasers are deadly.

There are almost 600 police forces in Canada and 73 use Tasers, according to the Edmonton Police Service website.

Policies on usage vary widely. In Edmonton, for instance, about 400 of 1,400 officers are trained to use the guns.

In Saskatchewan, the police commission decided last July to put a moratorium on authorizing Tasers for front-line officers in the province's 14 municipal and First Nations police forces, pending further study. In Ontario, Taser usage is restricted to supervisors and tactical squad members.

Owen Sound Police Chief Tom Kaye, the chairman of the committee that has written Tuesday's report, has denounced the "hysteria" against Taser use and promised the document will educate the public about the value of the guns.

"Nobody, anywhere has ever been able to link one of these devices to anybody dying, ever," Kaye, also-vice president of the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs, told the Owen Sun Times two months ago.

He has also said the new RCMP policy that curtailed usage reflects practices already in place in most provinces.

RCMP Commissioner William Elliott said last week his force recognizes stun guns can case "risk of death, particularly for acutely agitated individuals."

Taser shocks have been blamed for causing an acute and dangerous medical condition called "excited delirium."

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