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Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Taser rules for B.C.

July 23, 2009
CBC News

The B.C. government will restrict the use of stun guns by police, following the release of a report by the Braidwood Commission in Vancouver on Thursday.

Effective immediately, all police, sheriffs and corrections officers in B.C. have been directed to severely restrict the use of conducted energy weapons, in accordance with recommendations from the inquiry, Solicitor General Kash Heed said.

The B.C. government also will immediately raise the threshold for use of the electric stun guns to match former judge Thomas Braidwood's recommendations.

That means Tasers should only be deployed when all of the following criteria are met:

The officer is enforcing a federal criminal law.
The subject is causing bodily harm or will imminently cause bodily harm.
No lesser-force option has been or will be effective in eliminating the risk of bodily harm.
De-escalation and/or crisis intervention techniques have not been or will not be effective in eliminating the risk of bodily harm.
In addition, the government will move to ensure all police using stun guns have access to defibrillators, said Heed.
Conducted energy weapons will now undergo regular testing and police will be required to report all use of the weapons to the province, said the statement.

In addition, B.C. will work with the federal government during contract negotiations to incorporate Braidwood's recommendations into future contracts with the RCMP for policing in the province.

Report based on speculation, says Taser manufacturer
Meanwhile, both the provincial RCMP and the Taser manufacturer issued written statements in response.

Taser International Inc. of Scottsdale Ariz., said it appears that "politics has trumped science."

It said the recommendations in the report are based largely on speculation and ignored key facts.

It is the opinion of Taser International, the statement said, that the inquiry's recommendations do not "meet the realities of modern day law enforcement."

The RCMP, however, said it welcomed the report from the first phase of the Braidwood Inquiry. The force said it would "review and assess the findings, conclusions and recommendations" in the report. The statement said the RCMP believes that Tasers, when used appropriately by officers who are well trained, can be a useful tool that contributes to officer and public safety.

Braidwood made a total of 19 recommendations to the B.C. government.

The commission inquiry was called after the death of Robert Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant who was stunned by RCMP officers at Vancouver International Airport on Oct. 13, 2007. The commission finished its first phase of testimony in May.

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