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Monday, February 22, 2010

Police refuse to release NZ Taser footage

Arming New Zealand police with tasers has been hailed as a success, but there is a secret attached to the gun that police aren't happy to share.

Unbeknown to many people, each taser has a camera underneath the handgrip that films the gun being used on offenders.

Steve Tuttle, Vice President of Communications at Taser International, says the footage "helps communities understand what police officers face in the field."

However, New Zealand is unlikely to ever see the footage shot here as police bosses won't release it, suggesting to ONE News that the Taser use should be given positive coverage instead.

The Taser was shown in use in August 2006 when the weapon was unveiled, but that was in strictly controlled conditions and used on police staff with medical staff on stand-by.

In 2008 police installed the Taser-cam saying that it would "assist with accountability" and reassure people the Taser was safe.

When police Tasered a man after a car chase in Auckland in March 2009, ONE News asked police to release the footage under the Official Information Act. Police refused the request, saying that the offender had a right to privacy despite ONE News' assurance that the offender's identity would be concealed.

Tuttle disagrees, saying that "if there's something that controversial, I don't see why law agencies wouldn't want to show that... we did create that Taser-cam to be viewed."

And Green Party MP Keith Locke is questioning what the police have got to hide.

"They've got these cameras on these Tasers, they should let us see the footage," says Locke.

The Taser will be in police hands throughout the country by the end of August.

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