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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Decision regarding Taser use by Saskatchewan police to come around end of 2009

August 18, 2009
By Anne Kyle, Leader-Post

REGINA — Saskatchewan front-line police should know by year's end or early 2010 whether they will be equipped with Tasers as a use-of-force option and when they can use these devices.

The Saskatchewan Police Commission, which is developing policy and protocol on the usage of conducted energy devices (CEDs), is gathering submissions from interested parties and undertaking its own research, and will be examining the recommendations in the Braidwood Report — which was released last month setting out stringent standards for the use of CEDs by British Columbia police — before making its decision, said acting chairman Paul Korpan.

"We are right now defining the scope of our own research. We have a budget for it and a time line for it. We are really at the stage of exercising our diligence in determining the scope of what research we are undertaking, independent of what the Braidwood Inquiry did,'' Korpan said.

"However, we are going to give considerable weight to the Braidwood Report, I think in my opinion — I can't speak for the other commission members — as a great deal of work and resources went into that report.

"In fact, the researchers we have retained are going to be in communication with the research team that were used in that report. Some of the medical information in that report is out of date now, by a year, so we are going to bring that information current and look at this afresh.''

In July of 2008, the commission, which oversees and regulates the province's 14 municipal and First Nations police forces, placed a moratorium on the general use of CEDs by front-line officers in response to the controversies surrounding several high-profile Taser-related deaths and the lack of technical and medial information tied to their usage.

Currently, Tasers can only be utilized by SWAT members in Saskatchewan in tactical situations.

"I think it is pretty safe to say we are going to be looking at the Braidwood recommendations around special training for officers in identifying persons who may have mental health issues,'' Korpan said, noting B.C. does not have an independent civilian commission with police oversight so government there has to establish regulations regarding the use of force.

"We will be setting rules around the use of Tasers and a protocol for training in the use of those weapons.''

Korpan added the commission will likely render its decision late this year or early in 2010.

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