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Thursday, March 26, 2009

RCMP Commissioner misled Canadians on Taser use policy

March 26, 2009

OTTAWA – The Commissioner of the RCMP must explain why he misled Canadians on the RCMP’s Taser use policy, said Liberal Public Safety Critic Mark Holland today.

“The Commissioner misled Canadians when he told them that the RCMP had changed their policy to make Taser use more restrictive,” said Mr. Holland. “In fact, the RCMP’s policy has been weakened.”

On February 12th, RCMP Commissioner William Elliott told the Public Safety and National Security Committee that the RCMP had followed recommendations laid out in the committee’s June 2008 report on Tasers, which called for their restricted use.

But in a CBC report last night, it was learned that far from restricting the use of Tasers, the RCMP actually removed specific provisions that prohibit officers from discharging their Tasers more than once on an individual. In addition, a provision was also removed that required officers to issue a warning to suspects before they fire their Tasers.

In the CBC report, the RCMP claims that this revised policy reflects new studies that have shown that it is safe to use Tasers multiple times. However, of the two studies upon which they base their new policy, one did not look into the effects of multiple deployments and the other was commissioned by Taser International, the company that makes the stun guns.

The RCMP chose to ignore a comprehensive report published by the United States Department of Justice revealing that many deaths are associated with repeated discharges of Tasers, the medical risks are unknown, and that caution is urged in using multiple activations, according to the CBC.

Mr. Holland said he will be bringing a motion before the House of Commons to immediately recall Commissioner Elliott before the committee to explain himself.

“We have some disconcerting contradictions of fact here,” he said. “The Commissioner owes it to Canadians to come back to the committee and clear this up immediately. It is a matter of public safety and trust and we deserve the truth.”

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