You may have arrived here via a direct link to a specific post. To see the most recent posts, click HERE.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

EDITORIAL: Sponsorship conflict

Dear John Jones, former ETHICS ADVISOR to the CANADIAN ASSOCIATION OF CHIEFS OF POLICE, who resigned earlier this year - in part - over the conflict of interest posed by Taser International's sponsorship of the CACP conference:

Although Taser International has been a PLATINUM (the most generous and prestigious sponsorship level of all) sponsor of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police's annual conference over many years - and, in fact I have highlighted the conflict of interest this poses here on my blog every year since it first came to my attention - I am VERY pleased to advise you that your personal decision to resign may in fact have FINALLY had an impact. As of today, less than a month away from the conference (August 9-12, 2009) Taser International is nowhere to be found on the list of sponsors for the 2009 CACP conference in Charlottetown, PEI. Nor do they show up anywhere on the Exhibitors' List.

Thank you, John Jones - it's still early days, but you were already on my list of heroes and that will never change. This can't have been an easy decision for you, but here's living proof that your decision to resign was the right one.

I repost the Globe and Mail editorial from April (see below), for those who aren't already in the know.

Reality Chick (owner of this blog)

April 13, 2009
Globe and Mail

The foundation of taser use in this country rests on an obvious conflict of interest, and involves a group that should know better: the police chiefs of Canada. The resignation of an ethics adviser to the chiefs over that conflict speaks volumes about the rotten state of police discourse on the 50,000-volt stun guns.

"Doesn't pass the smell test," John Jones said of the chiefs' corporate sponsorships, including one from Taser International, of their annual conferences. The chiefs' board of directors was so dismissive it wouldn't even hear from the ethics committee when it asked formally for a meeting about the conflict.

Why do police in Canada - with the notable exception of the RCMP Commissioner William Elliott - have the chutzpah to insist that the taser is safe, even though more than 20 people have died in the past five years after being tasered? Because the Canadian Police Research Centre, an arm of the chiefs' association, says that research indicates it is safe. The chiefs do not directly set policy for the 170 forces across Canada that use the taser, but the association's research is in practice the basis for many of the country's taser policies.

Taking sponsorship money from a weapons manufacturer is a direct, not merely a perceived, conflict. The chiefs have received $75,000 over the past three years from Taser International, according to the chiefs' executive director, Peter Cuthbert. Everything the chiefs say about the taser is tainted by their acceptance of that money. More than that, the policies of all the police forces that rely on the chiefs' research are tainted.

The truth about the taser's potential harm is far from settled, except in the minds of the chiefs. Yet most police policies allow for taser use where no serious risk of physical harm to anyone is involved. (It is emphatically not used instead of guns, as many people think, including Canada's Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan.) Only the RCMP acknowledges a risk of death, especially for agitated individuals.

Six weeks ago, as a judicial review in British Columbia probed the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, a distressed, unarmed man who had been waiting 10 hours at the Vancouver International Airport for his mother, the police chiefs and the Canadian Police Association released a position statement on tasers: Not one of the 13 points raised a safety concern. Nothing about multiple taserings. Nothing about uses on the mentally ill or youth or people with heart problems or taking drugs. Then the chiefs called for a vast expansion of taser use.

John Jones is right. Something stinks about the chiefs' coziness with Taser International.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What took the press so long??....you've known all this for years. And if they will just dig a little deeper into your archives, they will find out a lot more. The whole taser issue has compromised policing from top to bottom. Good job Reality chick...