March 20, 2009
MICHAEL STAPLES, Daily Gleaner
A report released this week says directed energy devices can cause seizures in people if the electric barbs pierce the scalp and shock the brain has renewed calls for police departments to stop using the stun guns.
Michael Boudreau, a criminology professor at St. Thomas University, said an outright ban on tasers is needed.
"When they were first introduced, there were good intentions behind their use - in terms of trying to (respond to a situation) without resorting to a firearm. (But) the taser, it seems, has now become the first go-to weapon, as opposed to other sorts of tactics," he said.
Tasers emit 50,000 volts of electricity.
An article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal this week on the accidental jolting in the back of the head of an Ontario police officer described how the individual collapsed and went into a seizure for about a minute.
Boudreau said the report highlights how dangerous the weapons can be.
"It's fine for the manufacture to say 'don't point it at someone's head,' but, obviously, accidents can happen and this is a clear case of one ... No matter how well they are used, mistakes can be made."
An American organization said it's watching taser-related developments in Canada with great interest.
"Our coalition is not supporting a ban, but working for strict regulations, oversight and good training ... that people do not consistently get here," Mary Hussmann of the Coalition to Control Tasers, based in Columbia, Mo., said in an interview.
The Coalition to Control Tasers is composed of the American Civil Liberties Union, GRO-Grass Roots Organizing, Mid-Missouri Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
"We are very impressed that the people (in Canada) are standing up," Hussmann said.
"(Tasers) should be very rarely used. I think a lot of people in Canada are on the right track. People understand what guns are used for but they don't quite get where these tasers fit in."
Boudreau said he agrees extra training is a good idea, but instruction has to be ongoing.
"I might be prepared to say, 'yeah that's a good thing,' if there was a guarantee this training was going to be extensive and almost something like semi-annual. Without that extensive training, I still remain highly skeptical," he said.
Boudreau said taser usage is more tightly regulated in Canada than in the U.S., but that hasn't prevented incidents from occurring here.
"More public education is needed for the police to tell why they really need these things," he said.
Boudreau said Americans can learn from Canadian mistakes that, despite what the police say, tasers remain contentious weapons and that the time has come for a moratorium.
"Hopefully, they can learn they are not working here either and here we have a much more highly regulated police force," he said.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Friday, March 20, 2009
March 20, 2009