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Friday, March 06, 2009

Police support of Taser use is no fairy tale

March 6, 2009
Urban Compass by Janice Paskey
Metro News Calgary

Buckle down. We’re Tasering up.

The Calgary police now has 363 of the weapons.

As Mayor Dave Bronconnier told us in his state-of-the-city address Tuesday, there are “thugs” in those there streets. “And our police force is going to be given all the resources they need to drive these thugs out of business.”

A day later, the Calgary Police Commission speaks up, representing we, the people. “The Calgary Police Commission supports the use of the Taser by front-line officers, and has done so since 2005,” chair Denis Painchaud wrote in a daily newspaper.

Honey, er, Mr. Painchaud, a lot has happened since 2005. Tasered victims are dying. And officers thought Tasers were stun guns, not lethal weapons.

There isn’t a Canadian civilian alive who thinks some poor sod of a ranting immigrant deserved to be Tasered by RCMP officers at a Vancouver airport for threatening well-protected officers with a stapler!

After hearing testimony this week observers reacted with such disdain, they were cautioned by the inquiry judge.

Things aren’t looking great in the Taser court of public opinion.

So the Calgary Police Commission defends Tasers. We learn that, in one month alone, officers Tasered two who tried to commit suicide (now that’s a way to jolt some zest for life), those in a bar fight, and others who swarmed officers.

Do we feel better knowing, police must submit a “subject behaviour-officer response report.” Or that the reports are “carefully scrutinized by commission members.”

It’s true that few of us know the fear of a confrontation like police do. But technology has a downside: Texting while driving, impregnating 60-year-olds, Tasering Canadians, mainly poor ones, and killing them.

I don’t think the police commission should be taking a position on Tasers.

The jury is still out on the weapons. Our police commission could use similar restraint.

“Fairy tales are horrible stories we tell our children to prepare them for ... the newspaper,” Mayor Bronconnier said this week.


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