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Friday, September 04, 2009

AUSTRALIA: Police look for new taser brand

September 4, 2009

THE Queensland Police Service may junk its 1200 Taser guns if a more suitable model is found, police commissioner Bob Atkinson has confirmed.

Commissioner Atkinson said a search for another brand which limits each Taser cycle to five seconds would begin immediately, in the wake of a report recommending changes to their use.

The joint Crime and Misconduct Commission-Queensland Police Service review was prepared after the death of a man at Brandon, near Townsville.

Amphetamines addict Antonio Galeano, 39, suffered a heart attack after he was Tasered repeatedly during a violent domestic disturbance in June.

The report found that since the start of the year, multiple deployments of Tasers have occurred on 20 occasions not including the Brandon incident, and in 11 instances the Taser cycles lasted longer than five seconds. In three of those instances, Tasers were used for 10 seconds at a time – or twice the recommended cycle.

The CMC wants the weapons modified so each deployment can last no longer than five seconds but manufacturer Taser International has said that is not possible with the current model.

Mr Atkinson said it was an issue the QPS would examine further, including looking at alternatives to the $2000 Taser "in the interests of safe usage".

"First we need to find out whether the technical specifications the CMC would like to be introduced can actually be incorporated into one of these devices," he said.

Australian distributor for Taser International, George Hateley, said there was no market for Tasers that capped the number of deployments and limited cycles. "Most police forces don't want that and I wouldn't like the police to limit that sort of thing. You can imagine in a stressful situation and they squeeze the trigger and it doesn't go off again. It could be disastrous," he said.

"You wouldn't tell a police officer to load his gun with only one bullet. Why do that with Tasers?"

Instead, Taser International had developed a new semi-automatic model known as the X3, which could be deployed on three people at the same time, Mr Hateley said.

Other changes recommended by the report are a trial of cameras on Tasers, an increase in training for police from 10 to 14 hours, and a change in the threshold for use to "risk of serious injury to a person".

The new policy also prohibits officers from aiming the Taser at a person's head or neck.

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