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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Queensland Police "quietly" lift freeze to order more Tasers

April 27, 2011
Michael McKenna, The Australian

QUEENSLAND police are moving to double their Taser armoury after quietly lifting a freeze on the rollout of the stun guns following the 2009 death of a man who was shot up to 28 times with the 50,000-volt device.

More than 1000 new Tasers have been ordered by Queensland police, which will today receive a landmark Crime and Misconduct Commission report on the overhaul of training and policy on the use of the stun guns.

The report -- to be tabled in state parliament -- is understood to call for tough controls on the use of the guns in the face of mounting evidence the weapons are being used by police as an everyday compliance tool and not as a non-lethal substitute for a standard gun in high-risk situations.

Data has been gleaned from each of the existing 1400 stun guns in use and will serve as a baseline to be compared in a future review after more operational changes are introduced in line with the CMC report's recommendations.

Moves to trial alternative stun guns -- including the emerging "Stinger" semi-automatic stun gun -- were abandoned last year after a police trial.

Queensland police confirmed last night that the new guns were expected to be delivered in several weeks. A spokesman said officers were now better trained and had a stricter policy governing the use of the stun guns following a joint police-CMC review.

"This policy ensures a high level of scrutiny is applied to all deployments and review processes are established to address identified trends," the spokesman said.

"The ratio of officers now trained in the use of a Taser compared to the number of weapons available has steadily increased due to the continued suspension of the weapon rollout.

"The QPS has recently placed an order to purchase further Tasers.

"This is to ensure all Taser-qualified officers are able to be equipped with the devices as any unavailability is considered to be an unacceptable risk to the community and Queensland police officers."

A coroner's inquest is continuing into the death of Antonio Galeano, 39, who was repeatedly tasered after he confronted police with a steel bar at his unit in Brandon, south of Townsville.

Police initially told the media he had been shot several times, but an investigation by The Australian revealed the data from the gun showed he had been tasered up to 28 times.

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