APRIL 24, 2009
By Gwendolyn Richards; With Files From Renata D'Aliesio, Calgary Herald
More than 30 of the 50 Tasers being pulled from service for working incorrectly are from Calgary, but police say they have no plans to reconsider the practice of using the energy weapons.
In all, 190 Tasers belonging to the Calgary Police Service were tested, along with another 222 from other municipal police services in Alberta, at the request of the Solicitor General over concerns the weapons were functioning outside of the manufacturer's specifications.
Of those, 31 of Calgary's were found to be working outside of the "strictest definition" of Taser International's specifications, said CPS Supt. Trevor Daroux.
But, since the weapons were found to be malfunctioning with such a small variation from what the manufacturer outlined, Daroux said there is nothing to indicate they should stop using the weapons altogether.
"The deviation was very, very small, either above or below. There is no indication at all the deviation would result in that device being any less effective than what it was before," he said.
Daroux said the service is constantly evaluating their use-of-force tools and Tasers will remain one of those.
"The position of the service is that conducted energy weapons remain a valuable use of force option," he said.
The Solicitor General said there is no reason to pull all Tasers from service, even as the province pushes ahead with testing on the remaining 735 Tasers that have not yet been examined.
Alberta's malfunction rate of 12 per cent is only slightly higher than other provinces saw. In B. C., eight Tasers of 82 tested were found to be malfunctioning, while in Quebec five of 52 stun guns were not operating within specifications.
Based on that, Fred Lindsay estimates testing on the remaining Tasers will find another 75 are operating outside of specifications.
Still, he said, there is no evidence malfunctioning Tasers affected the safety of the public or the officer using them.
"The thing that would have affected my decision whether we pull them all off or not would be whether there was a clear indication that the malfunctioning or operating out of specification would create a safety hazard and I have not seen any evidence to support that," he said.
But Amnesty International Canada -- which has called for a moratorium on the stun guns--said it remains concerned about links between Taser use and the deaths of 25 people in the country.
Spokesman John Tackaberry said test results for Alberta's Tasers are cause for concern over the weapon's reliability. Even more disturbing, he said, is that the test results included newer models.
"The testing now is consistently eroding the credibility of the information about the reliability of the weapon, making it suspect for officers to use," he said.
"We think this is a cautionary note about the necessity for police forces to use the weapon with extreme caution, only under the most pressing circumstances under the force continuum where there is a threat to the individual other individuals or the officer involved," he said.
His comments are echoed by Liberal MLA Kent Hehr who has consistently called for Tasers to be removed from service until all the testing has been completed.
Of the 412 Tasers sent for testing from across the province -- 339 models purchased prior to Jan. 1, 2006 and 73 newer devices --50 were found to be mal-functioning. Of those, 42 of the older models were not operating as specified, as were eight of the new stun guns.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Friday, April 24, 2009
APRIL 24, 2009