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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Taser use by Vancouver police has declined

July 19, 2010
Laura Baziuk, The Province

Vancouver police are not using Tasers as much as they used to, says a new report released Monday.

Taser usage declined in 2008, with officers discharging one 33 times, compared to 86 times in 2007, the report suggests.

Based on that trend, usage is expected to also have declined in 2009. In the first quarter of that year, only four Tasers were discharged.

“Subjects appear to comply more often when they are confronted or challenged with a Taser,” the report says. “In turn, officers use the Taser less often as a pain compliance tool or an incapacitation device.”

A Taser was presented, but not discharged, in another 67 incidents in 2008, compared to 80 incidents in 2007.

Though she said it’s difficult to speculate, Vancouver Const. Jana McGuinness says a more stringent selection and training process could be reasons for the decline in usage, as well as previous media coverage and recommendations that have been made on the tool’s use.

Taser use is still under-reported, the report also says. A report was submitted for only 20 out of the 26 times when a Taser was discharged, the report says. A report was filed only half the time when a Taser was deployed but not used.

“Patrol members were responsible for most of the unreported incidents where a Taser was presented but not discharged,” the report says.

The report further suggests that the discrepancy exists because emergency responders have their own report system on Taser use. Taser usage must be reported to detect training gaps, equipment malfunctions and any lack in accountability, it says.

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