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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Manitoba policing agencies review RCMP's new Taser policy

Go Manitoba!! Now, there remains only NINE more provinces that need to distribute the RCMP's new policy on taser use to ALL municipal police agencies: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland.

"[Attorney General Andrew] Swan said his office WILL NOT ORDER municipal police agencies to adopt the new RCMP standards. That will be UP TO THEM he said, adding the RCMP tend to be "PERSUASIVE" when policies change."

The pressure is on - I'm sure Manitoba and the other nine provinces will eventually come around and do the right thing.

WINNIPEG -- The RCMP’s new policy on Taser-use has been distributed to all municipal police agencies in Manitoba, Attorney General Andrew Swan said Wednesday.

Swan said Manitoba Justice officials forwarded the policy Wednesday so that each of the 13 municipal forces, including the Winnipeg Police Service, were aware of what the Mounties were doing.

The RCMP introduced the new policy Tuesday. The revamped operational manual says officers should limit Taser use to incidents in which a person is "causing bodily harm" or will "imminently" lash out.

The new RCMP policy also says that when possible, Mounties should warn suspects they’re about to be zapped.

The directive mirrors a recommendation from former judge Thomas Braidwood, head of a B.C. public inquiry on Taser use prompted by the 2007 death of airline passenger Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport.

The change also comes in response to criticism from human-rights advocates that the Taser was often being used to make people comply with police commands, not to defuse the most serious threats.

Swan said his office will not order municipal police agencies to adopt the new RCMP standards. That will be up to them he said, adding the RCMP tend to be "persuasive" when policies change.

Winnipeg Police Service spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen said in a statement city police are satisfied with their current policy.

"The Winnipeg Police Service is aware of changes made to the RCMP policy and have reviewed their report," Michalyshen said in an email. "The Winnipeg Police Service is satisfied with its current policy as it is based on the totality of circumstances involved in each encounter and places the onus on the officer to justify and articulate its use."

Two years ago Michael Langan, 17, died after he was tasered by city police in a William Avenue back alley.

Two police officers had chased the teenager there after he stole something from a nearby car. An officer stunned Langan after he allegedly threatened officers with a knife. An autopsy report says Langan’s death was caused by a heart arrhythmia brought on by the Taser shocks. His family have said they intend to sue Taser International. A provincial inquest will also be called.

The RCMP policy also says multiple firings of the Taser may be hazardous. It also reinstates direction that officers must not use the stun gun for more than five seconds on a person and should avoid multiple bursts unless necessary.

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