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Friday, April 24, 2009

Alberta solicitor general Lindsay still supportive of Tasers

April 24, 2009

Alberta solicitor general and Minister of Public Security Fred Lindsay says he still feels confident about the use of Tasers after a government test showed more than 10 per cent of the devices used by police services were malfunctioning.

A total of 412 newer and late-model Tasers that were tested by a technology firm in Ontario found 50 that didn’t operate within specifications, according to a government report.

Less than 20 of the malfunctioning devices were giving out a jolt that was higher than tolerable, the report said.

Lindsay, who was once jolted by a Taser, believes the test still ensures Tasers are an effective tool in law enforcement.

“We bought an instrument that was supposed to be up to specifications and we weren’t going to deviate from that, irregardless if they were slightly over or significantly over,” said Lindsay.

“We pulled them out of the market and we had them recertified or destroyed.”

Lindsay says another 735 Tasers used by all police forces in the province, including the Edmonton Police Service, will be tested immediately.

And the test results were similar to findings in British Columbia and Quebec where both provinces found one in every 10 Tasers were defective.

“I don’t have any evidence to suggest one way or another (if this caused fatalities),” said Lindsay.

“This goes back to the assumption that if they are out of spec, they have contributed to injuries. We don’t have any evidence to suggest that at all.”

Police Chief Mike Boyd has said city police are not going to change policies around Tasers after the RCMP moved to restrict the use of the stun guns because it can kill in certain cases.

Mounties will now only use Tasers if there is a real threat to public safety because it’s too dangerous to use on suspects who are only resisting arrest, said RCMP Commissioner William Elliott last winter in Ottawa.

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