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Saturday, July 25, 2009

RCMP to adopt taser reforms

July 25, 2009
IAN BAILEY, Globe and Mail

Robert Dziekanski's mother says she is pleased the RCMP in B.C. have accepted a directive from the provincial government to adopt the Braidwood inquiry's reforms to police use of tasers.

"If they accept them, I am happy," Zofia Cisowski said from the family apartment in the Polish city of Gliwice, where her son was living before he left Poland in October, 2007, to begin a new life in Canada.

Ms. Cisowski said she has been in Poland for about two weeks, and without Internet access, so is trying to catch up both on the Braidwood recommendations and the response to them.

"It's good news," she said of RCMP support for the recommendations, adding she was hopeful for long-term change on how police use stun guns.

She saluted the work of Thomas Braidwood, a retired justice of the B.C. appeal court, for his recommendations. "I am very grateful. I am comforted by Commissioner Braidwood's statement that tasers can be harmful to people."

"My son is dead from the use of tasers. I am interested in anything good for the future," she told The Globe and Mail.

The RCMP in British Columbia yesterday announced it has issued a directive to officers that says the direction of the solicitor-general is "complementary" to existing policy for the Mounties.

"In addition to current policy, we have additional directions from the solicitor-general that we will follow," Sergeant Tim Shields, a spokesman for the RCMP in B.C., said yesterday, explaining the RCMP's action.

Mr. Braidwood is in the midst of a two-phase inquiry on the police use of tasers and the death of Robert Dziekanski, who suffered a fatal heart attack on Oct. 14, 2007 after a confrontation with Mounties at Vancouver airport.

Mr. Braidwood yesterday tabled a first-phase report that acknowledges the policing value of tasers, but, among 19 recommendations, calls for higher thresholds for their use. Other recommendations include that officers be prohibited from discharging the device for longer than five seconds in most cases and that the province set standards on taser use.

B.C. Solicitor-General Kash Heed accepted Mr. Braidwood's recommendations, and issued a directive to police officers, sheriffs and corrections officers on taser use.

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