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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Australian Police to attend US Taser conference

July 28, 2010
July 28, 2010

VICTORIA Police will next week attend a conference of American police chiefs to address growing concerns about the safety of Tasers.

The findings of the conference could have ramifications for the use of the stun guns in Victoria, where 30 are being trialled in Bendigo and Morwell.

The Police Executive Research Forum will meet in Philadelphia to review its guidelines around the use of stun guns after what the forum describes as ''significant controversy about the safety of such devices'' since its guidelines were last updated in 2005.

Advertisement: Story continues belowThe conference comes as The Age can reveal that a Taser was accidentally discharged at Bendigo police station earlier this month.

In 2008, a damning Amnesty International report into Taser use found the stun guns contributed to, or caused, at least 50 deaths in America in the seven years to August that year.

Superintendent Mick Williams, who will travel to Philadelphia on Saturday, said he was aware of the report and acknowledged that the weapons had been used irresponsibly overseas.

Superintendent Williams, said Victoria Police would learn from hearing other agencies' experiences with Tasers, and he was confident those mistakes would not be repeated here.

The 12-month trial in rural Victoria began this month, with a decision on whether they will be rolled out statewide expected after that. There has been no operational deployment of a Taser yet in the trial.

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