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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Taser critic calls for third-party electrical testing

January 10, 2010

Last week, Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan promised to develop a set of national rules for police Taser use -- but as Ottawa works to restore Canada's confidence in Tasers, one critic claims the real problem lies in electrical testing.

Emile Therien, past president of the Canada Safety Council and current board member, says the government is leaving itself open to huge liabilities because electrical safety standards for Conducted Energy Weapons are being ignored.

"We need physical standards for these," Therien said. "Product certification is absolutely critical because we're talking about an electrical product, and the minister doesn't seem to be moving in that direction."

Therien believes police are endangering the public, because as an electrical device the Taser has never been tested or certified by either the Canadian Standards Association or the Underwriters Lab to ensure the weapon is as safe as advertised.

CTV News went further by contacting every government agency which might have tested tasers for adverse health effects or electrical safety. Neither Health Canada, Public Safety Canada, The Canadian Police Research Centre or the RCMP have ever independently verified the manufacturer’s safety claims. In an email to CTV News from Ottawa Headquarters, Sgt. Greg Cox confirmed, “The RCMP is not aware of any Canadian agency that has undertaken testing of the health affects of CEW use.”

"I don't think the manufacturer wants standards”, says Therien. We're talking product integrity, consumer confidence, officer safety, public safety -- a lot of issues. It’s absolutely baffling."

While the electrical safety of stun-guns still needs to be determined by third-party testing, Therien says people are continuing to die. Since the weapons were adopted a decade ago, there are over 460 Taser-related deaths in North America—26 in Canada.

Though both a U-S technology firm and another in Richmond, BC are developing Taser-testers for police, there is still no way of regularly measuring electrical output of CEWs in any Canadian police detachment. Therien wonders how public safety can be ensured if regular testing of electrical output of Tasers is not done, like police do for breathalyzers and radar guns.

Therien is confident the Federal and Provincial governments will conform, adding, “There are agreements that can be struck to make sure these standards are in place and that they are actually imposed and respected.”

In the meantime, the Mounties and the manufacturer refuse on-camera interviews with CTV News to discuss the lack of electrical safety standards for Tasers.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Peter Grainger.

1 comment:

Excited-Delirium.com said...

There are methods of measuring complex waveforms. The industry standard method is RMS, just like the 120 volts RMS found in your home. Using averages, even 'rectified averages' is the mark of a newbie or someone with something to hide. The M26 and X26 taser are both about 2mA by the misleading average, but are about 150 to 160 mA by RMS.

The real question is what is the 'Effective' value. To claim that the Effective value is the average is a preposterous claim. It is such an outrageous claim that it must be difficult for Taser International's Kroll to maintain a straight face while making it.

Clearly, by the effects, the Effective current is much higher than the Average. It's also clearly above the point where it causes pain, clearly above the point where it locks-up muscles, and is therefore right at the point where it could affect the heart (let alone the other taser death mechanisms). And disturbed cardiac patterns could lead to a slightly delayed death.

Kroll et al make claims that the taser waveform has 'magical' properties that ensure safety. But the X26 waveform is significantly different than the M26 (no details of X3 yet...).

The M26 is about 18A peak, high frequency, and very short duty cycle. The newer, more dangerous, X26 is about 3A peak, includes more dangerous low frequency that is continuous 100% duty cycle. Even Taser Intetnational's own bought and paid for expert acknowledged that the X26 is more dangerous.

And the X26 certainly appears to be involved in more deaths PER DEPLOYMENT than the M26.

I doubt that there's much overlap between 'safe' and 'effective'.