You may have arrived here via a direct link to a specific post. To see the most recent posts, click HERE.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

EDITORIAL: The Taser as a last resort

April 3, 2010
Calgary Herald

In addition to offering an apology Thursday for the 2007 Tasering death of Robert Dziekanski, the RCMP came out with changes to its Taser-use policy. It took the deaths of at least 20 Canadians including Dziekanski, as well as two federal reports, for the RCMP to finally bring in more stringent rules for Taser use.

Promoted as a less lethal alternative to the gun when introduced in 2003, Tasers were quick to be deployed. In June 2008, Paul Kennedy, the head of the RCMP watchdog agency, criticized the RCMP for failing to manage the use of Tasers and allowing their use to increase, echoing sentiments expressed by a House of Commons committee.

The policy announced Thursday restricts the use of Tasers to incidents of officer or public safety. That this even had to be spelled out in policy is an admission that the RCMP too freely used the device to subdue people. Within 30 seconds of an agitated and unarmed Dziekanski being confronted by four officers at the Vancouver airport, he was Tasered five times and was dead within minutes, of cardiac arrest.

Patti Gillman, whose brother, Robert Bagnell, died in 2004 after being Tasered twice by police in Vancouver, likens the use of Tasers to Russian roulette, saying police have no idea what the outcome of their use may be.

The public wants police officers to be safe and respects the pressures and quick decisions they face. But forgotten seems to be the use of pepper spray, negotiation or the physical ability of four Mounties to subdue a bewildered and upset Polish immigrant who spoke no English.

No comments: