March 31, 2009
DAN MCCAFFERY, THE OBSERVER
Sarnia Police don't plan to make any changes to the way they use Tasers, despite two new developments regarding the controversial devices.
The Quebec government announced last week it is withdrawing all the stun guns after an audit showed some of them were discharging more electricity than specified by the manufacturer. At the same time, the RCMP reported its officers were far less likely to fire their Tasers last year after a public uproar erupted about their safety.
In fact, Taser use dropped 30 per cent in 2008, the Mounties said.
The statistic, made public by RCMP complaints commissioner Paul Kennedy, suggests officers were more cautious about using the stun guns once the devices came under public fire.
Const. Bill Baines of Sarnia Police Service said Monday there are no plans for changes locally.
"All our equipment is newer (than the Tasers being used by Quebec police) in terms of flaws," he said.
Besides that, Baines said local officers do not use Tasers frivolously.
"The guys are very careful with them, as they are with any other use of force," he said. "They have to submit a report each and every time they're used and it is reviewed by our training branch, supervisors and senior officers."
Baines believes Tasers have saved lives because they give officers an option other than shooting a suspect with a regular firearm. "They're another option that's less lethal," he said.
For every incident in which someone is killed by a Taser there are "countless incidents" in which they prevented serious injuries to suspects, members of the public or police officers, he said.
In an interview with The Observer four weeks ago, Sarnia Police Chief Phil Nelson said local officers understand the responsibility that comes with carrying the stun guns.
Only supervisors and emergency response team members carry Tasers. And those officers are only permitted to use them when they feel a suspect is exhibiting combative or assaultive behaviour, Nelson said.
"(Officers) are criminally and civilly responsible for that force unless justified," Nelson said.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
March 31, 2009