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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Senators pushing for review of RCMP

February 23, 2010

Liberal Senator Colin Kenny says RCMP need to use Tasers appropriately, and perhaps more judiciously, or risk losing them.

He said there are examples of Mounties quick to rely on stun guns as first choice and should that continue, public opinion may sway to political pressure to disarm officers of the valuable tools.

“With someone lazy or indifferent, a Taser becomes a substitute for waiting someone out,” he told a Sun editorial board Tuesday.

“Time is on their side, to talk someone out of a situation is always the best solution.”

Kenny was in Calgary Tuesday to talk about a report by him and several fellow senators calling on an independent review of the RCMP, saying it needs stronger oversight, more members recruited and a hike in visible minority and women officers.

Earlier this month, RCMP brass said it plans an overhaul of its Taser policy — an announcement made on the heels of recommendations from inquiries following the death of Robert Dziekanski.

Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant who died in 2007 after being hit with an RCMP Taser at the Vancouver airport.

A video of the confrontation showing a confused, sweaty Dziekanski repeatedly hit, was seen by millions of people, triggering public outrage and a questions about the use of stun guns.

Kenny said that and others cases where Tasers are used inappropriately threaten public support for the use of force option.

“If you are (using a Taser) for convenience or a sadist, sooner or later ... the only tool left is a handgun,” he said.

“The absence of accountable leadership causes misuse of the tool ... They’re going to take it away.

And that would not be in the best interest of public safety, he said.

“It means someone gets shot with a bullet rather than getting shocked with a conducted emergency device,” Kenny said

RCMP need more oversight on Taser use, adequate training, and should put them in the hands of only those “mature” enough to use them and more defined rules of engagement to dictate when its use is the best option, he said.

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