May 24, 2009
THE GUELPH MERCURY
No doubt some members of the Guelph Police Service and perhaps the Guelph Police Services Board feel otherwise, but outspoken police Taser-use critic Patti Gillman should be lauded for obliging both organizations to have a second look at something that troubles her.
Gillman, whose watchdog work and advocacy stems from the death of her brother following an arrest that saw him repeatedly shocked with Tasers, in Vancouver, is agitated over a private business started by a Guelph police officer.
The business, the Canadian Centre of the Prevention of In-Custody Deaths Inc., came to upset Gillman in part for its many similarities to an American company. The American company, Institute for the Prevention of In-Custody Deaths, has links and a business history with Taser International. Gillman appropriately considered it awry if the Canadian firm had like connections with Taser and wanted that explored.
Similar queries made by her of another Canadian police service led to that agency revising its conflict-of-interest policies.
She has no evidence of any inequitable issues related to the Guelph officer's company. Nor has any been established. But the basis for her feeling the need to call for a review of it are clear. The businesses sound alike. They engage in the same work -- training front-line emergency service workers in how to handle certain crisis situations. Their logos almost mirror each other. The founding Guelph officer has allowed publicly he had some co-operation on the startup of his business from its American peer. Further, both groups actively teach about excited delirium -- an alleged psychological and physiological state that has been politicized through its links to Taser-funded research and promotion.
We should want citizens to fairly question public agencies and agencies with public connections on their accountability and their transparency. Gillman did just so in this matter. And, the Guelph Police Services Board has added to the due diligence on this file because of her efforts.
Some will regard her as having wasted her energy and those of Guelph Police stakeholders. Others should regard this as active and responsible citizenship.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Saturday, May 23, 2009
May 24, 2009