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Friday, April 30, 2010

Machine tests Tasers' zapping strength

A new machine will allow police to test the strength of their Tasers, but that doesn't necessarily mean B.C. law enforcement will put it to use.

Datrends Systems, a Richmond, B.C., medical instrument manufacturing company, has created Verus One, a machine that will provide the exact measurement of the electrical output of Tasers.

"If you're over-producing, there may be a problem with the person that you've shot – in damage to them," Ron Evans of Datrends told CTV News. "If it is under-producing, it may not have the effect that the officer expects, putting him in danger."

It's taken Datrends six months to create the machine, which is the first to measure Taser power.

"A test will tell you if it meets the specification as Taser put them out originally," Evans said.

After the death of Robert Dziekanski, the Braidwood inquiry recommended police find a way to test their weapons regularly as each Taser performs differently.

But the Taser specifications pre-programmed into the machines have yet to be verified independently.

"We need someone independent of Taser to look at that protocol and say, yes, this is actually something that will ensure the device performs as expected, that it will not unexpectedly kill people," executive director of the BC Civil Liberties Association David Eby said.

Despite the Braidwood recommendation, the B.C. solicitor general's office will only say it's interested in learning more about the machine.

Datrends will be holding a demonstration at the international policing conference this weekend to showcase the item.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Peter Grainger

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