August 20, 2010
OTTAWA — A team of researchers led by a Carleton University professor has developed a new system for consistently testing the thousands of Tasers used by Canadian police.
Andy Adler, a Canada Research Chair in biomedical engineering, working with five other academic and industry experts has established a method for agencies across the country to test Tasers and other "conducted-energy weapons" and determine whether the devices are operating within their manufacturers' specifications.
The procedure will also define data collection requirements so that information from the testing of any CEW in Canada can be used for forensic analysis of that particular weapon and be added to a central database for future research.
In a 2009 report, commissioner Thomas Braidwood concluded that "conducted-energy weapons do have the capacity to cause serious injury or death" — but the manufacturers say there's no danger if the devices are used as specified.
"Clearly, the government wants to do testing, but we felt if, as experts, we provide a detailed recommendation of how testing should be done, that would help everybody," Adler said.
He added the authors represent the labs that have done almost all the Taser testing in Canada. About 6,000 of the estimated 15,000 Tasers in use in Canada have been tested.
Adler said the testing procedure the authors are recommending goes beyond the guidelines proposed by manufacturer Taser International.
"Taser has their guidelines, but they needed to be augmented," Adler said. "We made a much, much more specific protocol."
For example, instead of just reporting the average values of electrical impulses from the weapons — as the company does — the report says all electrical pulses should be analyzed and the maximum and minimum values should be reported, in case they're dramatically different from the average.
A maximum-charge limit is also being proposed based on electrical safety specifications.
Currently, Taser calls for an average charge of 125 microcoulombs, a measurement derived by combining the intensity of a charge and the time it lasts. The new protocol calls for a maximum charge of 182 microcoulombs.
Adler said a consistent testing protocol is something federal and provincial officials, as well as the Braidwood Commission — which investigated the death of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver International Airport — have called for.
With the protocol now in print, he's hoping officials adopt the recommended measures.
"We did the work because we hope it will be taken up," he said.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Friday, August 20, 2010
August 20, 2010