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Friday, July 24, 2009

B.C. RCMP give qualified support to Braidwood inquiry's Taser recommendations

July 24, 2009
Vancouver Sun

B.C.'s RCMP gave some qualified support to the Braidwood Inquiry's recommendations on Taser use Friday afternoon.

In a statement released on its website, RCMP applauded the Commission and defended its own changing policies.

It also raised concerns about the recommendation for paramedics to be present when a Conducted energy weapon is used, saying it's not viable to provide immediate medical help in some rural communities.

The statement below:

B.C. - RCMP Statement on Braidwood Commission Report on Conducted Energy Weapon Use in British Columbia

2009-07-24 15:45 PDT

The RCMP welcomes the Braidwood Commission’s report on the use of Conducted Energy Weapons (CEWs) in the Province of British Columbia. We are pleased to note that Commissioner Braidwood recognizes the CEW as a useful law enforcement tool and supports its continued use, although he does indicate that this support is conditional on appropriate policies and safeguards being in place.

The report provides helpful recommendations and in a number of areas those recommendations mirror or compliment changes already incorporated in the RCMP’s revised CEW policy.

While the language of Justice Braidwood’s recommendations differs somewhat from that contained in current RCMP policy, the overall intent appears similar. That includes limiting the use of CEWs to situations where there is a real threat to officer or public safety, identifying risks associated with the deployment of CEWs and ensuring accountability for CEW use.

In June 2008 the RCMP made a number of improvements to its CEW policies, training, practices and reporting requirements, including:

• restricting the use of CEWs to incidents involving threats to officer or public safety;

• establishing annual CEW re-certification requirements,

• enhancing “use of force” reporting policies and procedures including producing quarterly and annual reports on CEW usage.

Our revised policy underscores risks associated with the deployment of CEWs, emphasizes that those risks include the risk of death, particularly for acutely agitated individuals, as well as the hazards of mutiple deployments. In December 2008, the RCMP initiated independent testing of its national inventory of Conducted Energy Weapons.

Such testing will now be a requirement of other police forces operating in British Columbia. The RCMP is in the process of implementing “Subject Behaviour Officer Response” reporting which has now been recommended by Commissioner Braidwood. This will support greater accountability and help police officers report in greater detail the circumstances of serious incidents.

We believe the terminology used by Commissioner Braidwood to set out the threshold of threat that must be present before a CEW can be deployed, namely, “a clear and imminent threat of bodily harm” is a clearer articulation of the appropriate threshold and we will accordingly develop further amendments to the applicable RCMP policy. Some recommendations in the report raise questions that will need to be addressed. This is particularly the case for the RCMP which delivers policing services in a wide variety of environments across British Columbia and in a total of more than 780 communities across Canada.

For example, the recommendations dealing with paramedic assistance pose a significant challenge in remote locations in British Columbia policed by the RCMP and in many communities in other jurisdiction where such assistance is not readily available. We are committed however to working with our provincial partners with the goal of operating within or exceeding provincial policing standards and to ensure consistency in our policies and practices across the country. Yesterday afternoon following the release of the Commission’s report the RCMP issued an Operational Bulletin to each of our 6500 officers in British Columbia.

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