February 13, 2009
TREVOR PRITCHARD, STANDARD-FREEHOLDER, WITH FILES FROM THE CANADIAN PRESS
Most of the RCMP's new guidelines on the use of Tasers have already been implemented by municipal police forces in Ontario, including Cornwall, says the city's chief of police.
Chief Dan Parkinson said much of the RCMP policy announced Thursday - which will prohibit the stun guns from being used to simply subdue suspects - is reflected in an October 2008 report filed by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.
"The RCMP are merely changing their training methods to come more in line with the direction that Ontario as a province has gone in," said Parkinson, who is also the OACP's first vice-president.
RCMP commissioner William Elliott told the House of Commons public safety committee that the use of Tasers must be restricted to cases where officers are in danger or where there is a risk to public safety.
Officers had previously been instructed that Tasers are a good way to control suspects in a state of so-called "excited delirium" and get them medical treatment. That phrase - which had been derided by critics - no longer appears in RCMP operational manuals, said Elliott.
The revised policy also warns against the hazards of multiple Taser firings.
RCMP officers also must now report each time they fire, or even draw, their Tasers, and the reports must go to the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP. That paperwork is already required of Cornwall Community Police Service officers, said Parkinson. The reports are then sent on to the province quarterly, the chief added.
Parkinson said the scope of the RCMP's territory and policing responsibilities helped explain why their policies weren't already in line with Ontario municipal forces. "Provinces have the ability to move, perhaps, just a little bit quicker on some things," said Parkinson. "We all seem to be singing off the same hymn sheet, as it were, now."
Last June, the all-party committee called for the 50,000-volt weapons to be reined in and reclassified as "impact weapons" until Taser safety is shown through impartial studies."
At least 20 Canadians have died after being Tasered.
According to CCPS statistics, city police discharged their Tasers 11 times in 2007.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Friday, February 13, 2009
February 13, 2009