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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Saskatchewan: Decision on Taser use expected soon

April 28, 2011
By James Wood, StarPhoenix

The Saskatchewan Police Commission is wrapping up consultations and will soon turn to making a decision on whether front-line police officers will be allowed to carry Tasers.

Commission chairman Paul Korpan said in an interview this week that discussions with two remaining organizations should be completed by the end of May or early June.

Korpan stressed that a decision will only be made by the commission after due deliberation. He said allowing Tasers for front-line officers is not a done deal.

However, there have been no objections raised during consultations to equipping police with conducted energy devices, said the Regina lawyer, but organizations want to ensure there are strict guidelines for their use.

"If it's allowed, that is the next question or part of the question. And I think the two questions have to be determined together," said Korpan.

Under the current rules set by the police commission - an independent provincial body that oversees regulations and standards for municipal police - Tasers currently can only be utilized by members of special weapons and tactical teams.

Municipal police services in the province have called for front-line officers to be equipped with the weapons. Saskatoon police Chief Clive Weighill has suggested in the past their use would be restricted to situations such as those that would involve the threat of imminent physical harm.

In July 2008, the police commission reversed an earlier decision to allow Tasers for general use by police, citing a need for more information.

It began a new review in February 2009 and at one point a decision was expected in 2010.

Korpan said the longer timeframe was needed because of the commission's desire to be thorough in its consultations.

The commission did not take input directly from the public but did go to police, civil liberties, mental health and aboriginal organizations, and government bodies such as the children's advocate for feedback.

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