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Friday, April 03, 2009

Tasers used by B.C. police are faulty: Tests

By Mike Barber, Canwest News Service
April 2, 2009

Eight X26 Tasers 'failed to meet manufacturer's specifications and must therefore be destroyed, or repaired and retested, before going back into service,' a statement released by B.C. Ministry of Public Safety said Thursday.

The provincial Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General announced the results Thursday as part of an independent review of the controversial weapons.

The eight X26 Tasers "failed to meet manufacturer's specifications and must therefore be destroyed, or repaired and retested, before going back into service," a statement released by the ministry said.

B.C. Solicitor General John van Dongen requested the review in December 2008. He asked municipal police chiefs to pull the conductive energy weapons for testing because other independent research found some Tasers had been dispensing a higher charge than manufacturers had listed.

"We are going to be establishing a routine provincial policy for testing," said van Dongen.

The eight faulty Tasers came from Vancouver, New Westminster, Port Moody and Saanich police departments and from B.C. Corrections.

Seven of the X26s "failed to produce a pulse rate high enough to meet manufacturer's specifications," while the eighth was withdrawn for a number of unspecified reasons.

The conducted electricity weapons are supposed to discharge 50,000 volts of electricity when fired.

Van Dongen said the seven Tasers that had pulse rates below the manufacturer's standard could have posed a threat to the officers using them because they could have been left exposed to possible attacks from suspects.

Eighty-two X26s made before 2006 had been tested. The eight faulty Tasers represent a 10 per cent failure rate, which the release said was in line with tests in other jurisdictions.

Last week, Quebec Public Security Minister Jacques Dupuis announced five Tasers would be destroyed after they malfunctioned during testing.

The five were among a group of 52 stun guns that were made before 2005. He said the remaining 115 guns available to 14,000 police officers in the province also will be tested.

Alberta's solicitor general, Fred Lindsay, directed the province's police forces to turn in 400 X26s for testing in January. The results of those tests are still pending.

The ministry is still waiting for test results for the province's 126 M26 Tasers, which also had been included in the recall.

MPB Communications, based in the Ottawa area, conducted the tests for B.C. and Alberta.

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