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Friday, March 20, 2009

Taser testing reveals glitch in one Kingston stun gun

March 20, 2009
ROB TRIPP, Kingston Whig-Standard

Kingston Police have sent one of their electric stun guns back to its American manufacturer after tests showed it was not operating according to specifications.

Chief Stephen Tanner said the Taser is one of 19 that was tested at an independent Ottawa laboratory.

The tests showed that all of the weapons are discharging acceptable amounts of electricity. They are designed to deliver 50,000 volts to incapacitate a person.

Kingston's Tasers are supposed to operate with a pulse rate between 16.5 and 20 pulses per second. The faulty gun pulsed at 16.1.

"I'm not sure that's scientifically significant," Tanner said, in an interview.

He's not sure what problem would be caused by the lower pulse rate.

"It was probably delivering less of an impact," Tanner said yesterday, at a meeting of the police services board, the civilian body that oversees the department.

To be certain it doesn't present a problem, Kingston Police are shipping the weapon to Taser International and asking the firm to bring the gun back within specs.

"It probably is not a warranty matter," Tanner said, though he doesn't expect it will be costly fix.

If the gun can't be adjusted, it will be replaced.

Kingston Police have 34 Tasers. All are undergoing independent tests to satisfy public concern about the weapons after an investigative report broadcast last December by CBC television found that some older model Tasers emitted much larger shocks than the American manufacturer said was possible.

The finding fuelled public controversy about the weapons and prompted many police agencies to pull the weapons out of use until they could be tested.

Kingston Police did not stop using their Tasers.

CBC sent 44 Tasers to an independent lab in the U.S. for analysis.

All of Kingston's Tasers are the older model that was part of the CBC testing.

Tanner said the department's remaining Tasers should be tested within the next week or two.

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