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Monday, December 07, 2009

Police hedge on Taser use after new rules

December 7, 2009
CBC News

Police officers are rethinking their use of stun guns, after Taser International advised them to stop aiming at the chest because of a slight risk of cardiac arrest when the electrified darts hit there.

The company has advised the police to instead aim for the belly or the back of the legs.

Taser International has always assured police officers that the stun gun can never cause problems with the heart, no matter how many times it is used on someone.

Now the company says, just to be safe — from a liability point of view — police should avoid firing at the chest.

"The entire playing field has been altered," said Tony Simioni, president of the Edmonton Police Association.

He said that even before this recent policy, some police officers had begun leaving their Taser in their locker "based on the level of scrutiny, just the overall perception that this Taser may be more trouble than it is worth."

"Now there's an increasing tendency not to use the Taser at all because the deployment instructions are unrealistic, in their view," Simioni said.

Mike Sutherland, president of the Winnipeg Police Association, said the directive now puts his members at risk if they fire the stun gun and it hits the chest.

"I think there's a possibility that we may see an increase — especially given the controversy surrounding the Taser — that our members dragged into court cases where liability will become an issue," Sutherland said.

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