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.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Sunday, January 10, 2010
January 10, 2010