Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Police associations call for all officers to be armed with tasers

The Canadian Police Association (CPA) and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), the two largest police organizations in the country, have released a position document advocating greater use of tasers or conducted energy devices. According to CPA President, Charles Momy, tasers not only save lives but do not cause death. Tom Kaye, Vice-President of the CACP, stated that "we reiterate that to date, there is no evidence, either scientific or medical, that a conducted-energy weapon has been the direct cause of death anywhere, at any time, on any person." According to their position document, conducted energy devices should be restricted to situations of "active resistance" or where there are threats to officer and public safety.

The Globe and Mail responded with a scathing editorial "Dangerously Blank Slates." As it observes "...these words are merely a blank slate on which police may write almost any self-justification they wish. They give police a licence for the use of massive force, even where, as in [the Dziekanski case] it is unjustifiable."

On the issue of the dangers posed by tasers, we need a national debate informed by independent research free of any links to Taser International. While the CPA and CACP contend that studies reveal that tasers are safe, there are contrary studies. For example, a study conducted by Amnesty International found that tasers were a cause or contributing cause in the death of 67 individuals. See "Less than Lethal? The Use of Stun Guns in US Law Enforcement". See further, research by Dr. Andrew Dennis, of the Cook County Hospital Trauma Unit and a former police officer. Finally, there is a study by University of California cardiologists recently published in the American Journal of Cardiology entitled "Relation of Taser (Electrical Stun Gun) Deployment to Increase in In-Custody Sudden Deaths."

Posted by Mandy Cheema (Windsor Law III)

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