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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Police chief wants Tasers for all frontline officers

To think that Tom Kaye (Owen Sound, Ontario Chief of Police) continues to hold any credibility as the chair of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police committee on tasers just boggles the mind. It's embarrassing. Where do I register a no-confidence vote? "Hadn't read up on the Firman case?" Hullo!! Dr. Michael Pollanen attributed Firman's death to "cardiac arrhythmia PRECIPITATED BY ELECTRONIC CONTROL DEVICE DEPLOYMENT in an agitated man." Could it get any clearer? A coroner's inquest isn't going to change that outcome Tom. How can the chair of a taser committee in Canada NOT have "read up on" such a significant case? That's only one of your major gaffes in this interview (see below) - anyone whose been following along can identify all of them.

Tom, you're either a) TERRIBLY misinformed or b) you think the Canadian public is REALLY stupid. If you manage to push your agenda through, the Canadian public is in grave danger. How about doing the right thing and inviting some PUBLIC DISCOURSE/CONSULTATION? I know of several very well informed people who would be delighted to participate.

See also Excited-Delirium's post from February 2009 (some of us are keeping track of this crap): Look what we have to deal with

January 26, 2011
Scott Dunn, Owen Sound Sun Times

Owen Sound Police Chief Tom Kaye said he looks forward to the day when all frontline officers carry a Taser.

Kaye made the comments to reporters after presenting a report summarizing use-of-force incidents to the police services board Wednesday.

In 2010 there were 20 incidents, generating 27 reports, when force was used by city officers to a degree that met provincial reporting requirements. Such circumstances include drawing a gun with the public present, using any weapon on a person and using physical force causing an injury requiring medical attention.

A Taser was fired twice and displayed eight times in 2010, Kaye said. Sometimes officers used a mode that shows electricity crackling in the device, Kaye said.

Tasers were never used in the "push/stun" mode, in which the weapon was physically jabbed into someone, he said.

Kaye also chairs the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police committee concerning the controversial conducted-energy weapons, which an SIU official said caused a Collingwood man's death last June.

"It's our hope that every frontline officer at some point in time gets issued with a Taser," Kaye said.

Kaye's department is now tracking the use of the Taser both when it is fired, as required by the provincial government, but whenever it is drawn, which isn't a provincial requirement.

Officers started tracking where on the subject's body the Taser's metal probes strike, "so that we can use that to refine our deployment of Tasers in the future," he said.

"So we're looking to build our business case for government by tracking all of that information."

Special Investigations Unit director Ian Scott attributed the death of Aron Firman outside a Collingwood group home June 24 to the use of a Taser by and OPP officer. The officer was cleared.

He cited Ontario's chief forensic pathologist, Michael Pollanen, who attributed Firman's death to "cardiac arrhythmia precipitated by electronic control device deployment in an agitated man." He had underlying health issues which may have predisposed him to arrhythmia, Pollanen found.

Kaye downplayed any conclusion that Tasers kill people. He said he didn't know how that diagnosis could be made because Mr. Firman was found, Kaye understands, with vital signs absent.

"It's my understanding that if someone is already down and vital signs absent, you cannot tell in any subsequent medical examination or autopsy," that the Taser caused the death, "because there are no telltale signs on the heart muscle."

Kaye also said he hadn't read up on the Firman case and it remains to be seen what conclusions an inquest draws.

He said he knows more than six Ontario inquest juries, and six or eight others across Canada, have recommended all frontline police officers be issued a conducted energy weapon.

"I know that in the United States there are a number of their medical examiners that have made the same pronouncements.

"And in every particular case they've had to withdraw their cause of death as having been that because it's unsubstantiated."

Kaye said the national police chiefs' association position on Tasers is to wait and see what conclusion the Firman inquest produces.

Other Owen Sound Police Services use-of-force details Kaye provided:

• Guns were drawn and pointed at a subject four times, including one case in which two guns were pointed during the same arrest. Police did not fire their guns at a person last year.

• Twice a gun was drawn to deal with a vicious or dangerous animal, and twice a firearm was discharged to destroy an injured or sick animal.

• Hands were laid on subjects to gain control three times, a baton and pepper spray were used once each.

• There were 19 times no injury resulted to the subject or officer.

• None of the times force was used resulted in serious injury requiring reports to the Special Investigations Unit, the civilian arms-length police oversight agency.

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