June 3, 2009
By Joe Couture, Regina Leader-Post
REGINA — The RCMP is taking almost 200 Tasers out of its arsenal in Saskatchewan.
Earlier this week, the RCMP announced that it would pull more than 1,500 older-model Tasers — also known as conducted-energy devices or conducted-energy weapons — from service in detachments across the country on the grounds that they might not generate a powerful enough electrical charge.
In Saskatchewan, the move will take out of service 193 of the older Tasers, according to a spokesman for the RCMP.
The decision to take the M26 Taser out of service came after B.C. government tests showed the majority of the units tested were "underperforming."
Results of the tests showed that 80 per cent of the devices failed to operate within the manufacturer specifications.
Ninety per cent of the units produced less electrical output than would be expected, "potentially presenting both public and officer safety risks," according to a news release from the RCMP.
The RCMP will test all M26 units in its inventory across the country, and only those confirmed to be functioning properly will be returned to active service.
In a statement provided to the Leader-Post on Wednesday, the company that makes Tasers defended its products.
"Taser International stands behind the quality and safety of its electronic control devices," said spokesman Peter Holran, noting that it is "not unusual for some high-tech electrical devices to experience a slight degradation in the electrical components over time."
Holran said his understanding is that the M26 units tested in B.C. fell below the specifications for energy output.
"A lower energy output equates to a higher safety margin, and, therefore, the medical safety of these devices is not in question," Holran continued. "Since there has been confusion over proper testing protocol and specification . . . under no circumstance should any of these devices be destroyed so as to preclude further analysis by other labs."
The RCMP's inventory also includes more than 1,500 Tasers of the X26 model, which is smaller and produces less output, while "achieving the same operational result," stated the RCMP.
The intention is to eventually replace all of the M26 models with X26 models.
The RCMP has 109 X26 model Tasers currently in service in Saskatchewan.
In the first six months of 2008 — the most recent period for which statistics are available on the RCMP's website — members in Saskatchewan activated Tasers 41 times. In addition, officers presented or threatened to use Tasers — but did not activate them — 61 times.
The total of 102 deployments is higher than that in any other province or territory, except Alberta and B.C., where Tasers were used 131 and 227 times, respectively. In Manitoba, Tasers were deployed 51 times in the first half of 2008.
The RCMP's responsibilities differ in every province. There weren't any statistics for Ontario or Quebec, where the force has a limited policing presence.
In B.C., where the RCMP is responsible for many highly populated urban areas, its 9,500 employees make up almost one-third of the entire national force.
In Saskatchewan there are about 1,200 members, not including those connected to Depot Division. In Alberta, there are about 2,200 members and in Manitoba, there are about 1,150 RCMP employees.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
June 3, 2009