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Friday, July 08, 2011

Police get more Tasers and right to wear them

July 8, 2011

A month after Mario Hamel and Patrick Limoges were killed by police fire, Montreal cops have received the goahead to acquire more Tasers and carry them on their belts instead of locking them in their cruisers.

In the next few days, four new stun guns will be deployed and 12 will be in circulation by the start of 2012.

More patrollers will now receive the three-day training required to use these weapons.

Officers will be authorized to wear Tasers on their waist or thigh, instead of stashing them in a locked box in their car.

"This recommendation from the commission was made to insure better accessibility and greater availability of the weapon to police," said Claude Trudel, president of the city's permanent commission on public security.

The commission must aprove all of Taser purchases.

Police chief Marc Parent's request for more Tasers got the green light Wednesday.

Réal Ménard, the commission's vice-president, supported the police's request even though his Vision Montreal party called for a moratorium on Tasers a year ago.

"Recent events like what unfortunately happened downtown allow us to think that the Taser, as an intermediary weapon, allows police to quickly control an individual without the use of violence," Ménard said.

Marco Carrier, of Montreal police's executive committee on the use of force, says the request was unrelated to the June 7 deaths of Hamel and Limoges.

The commission has authorized Montreal police to add 15 new stun guns to its arsenal, bringing its total to 57.

Carrier cautions that most of these are used for training and SWAT, and only 12 will be available to patrollers.

Montreal is among the least armed city in North America when it comes to stun guns.

The Montreal Police Brotherhood had mixed feelings about the news, noting that the weapon fell from grace following the 2007 death of Robert Dziekanski, a distressed Polish immigrant jolted by Mounties at Vancouver airport.

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