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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Niagara Regional Police ahead of the RCMP on Tasers

June 3, 2009
Posted By Grant LaFleche, St. Catharine's Standard

While the RCMP is pulling more than 1,000 Tasers from service across the country over safety concerns, the Niagara Regional Police says it has nothing to worry about.

The offending weapon, the M-26 Taser, is no longer part of the NRP arsenal.

“We pulled them from service in April,” NRP spokeswoman Jacquie Forgeron said Wednesday.

The NRP had six of the older model energy weapons which were used by members of its tactical unit. However, after testing them, the Tasers were replaced by the newer X-26 model.

The RCMP said this week the M-26 Taser will be removed from service after testing by the B.C government found the weapons failed to meet the manufacturer’s specifications 80 per cent of the time.

Around 1,600 weapons are being pulled after testing showed the weapon often delivered an electrical charge less than expected.

The use of Tasers by police in Canada has been in the spotlight thanks to recent hearings into the death of Robert Dziekanksi, who died after being jolted with the weapons by RCMP officers in 2007 in Vancouver.

Locally, a corner’s inquest into the 2005 death of James Foldi of Beamsville has looked at the use of tasers by the NRP officers who arrested him.

The inquest, which has been paused due to scheduling conflicts, heard that Foldi died as a result of excited delirium brought on by acute cocaine poisoning.

Forgeron said the NRP started looking at its older Tasers when a CBC report in 2008 showed that versions of the X-26 made before Dec. 31, 2005, were discharging more volts than they should.

The NRP took the relevant weapons out of service to be tested. During that round of testing the M-26 weapons were also looked at.

Last month, the last six M-26 Tasers the NRP had were pulled from service and replaced with newer weapons, Forgeron said.

Forgeron said the NRP presently have 44 X-26 weapons in use.

Only NRP supervisors and members of the tactical unit are authorized to use the conducted energy weapons.

In 2008, Tasers were used by NRP officers in 44 incidents, down from 98 in 2007.

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