On February 12, 2009, RCMP Commissioner William Elliot appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to update them on changes to RCMP taser policies and training following the release of Standing Committee's June 2008 Report.
The RCMP now acknowledge that tasers or Conducted Energy Weapons, as they are now called, can be deadly particularly in cases of "acutely agitated individuals." As a result, enhanced training and policies on use were put into place in June. According to the new policy, tasers can only be used "where it is necessary to do so in circumstances of threats to officer or public safety." In addition, officers are required to report all uses of the taser including cases where it is drawn but not used.
Whether these changes will reduce the use and deaths associated with what Commissioner Elliott refers to as a "useful weapon" remains to be seen. The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association has called for a moratorium on the use of tasers.
It will be interesting to see what impact the changes have on the recommendations that will be produced once the Braidwood Inquiry in Vancouver is completed. The Braidwood Inquiry was established following the death of Robert Dzierkanski at Vancouver's International Airport in October of 2007. Dzierkanski was tasered five times.
Posted by Professor Tanovich and Robert Tarantino