Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Older-model RCMP tasers fail test

Unquestionably, the use of conducted energy weapons (“Tasers”) by Canadian law enforcement agents has been met with tremendous scrutiny. On June 1, 2009, RCMP Commissioner Bill Elliot stated that approximately 1600 M-26 (older-model) Tasers would be removed from RCMP use until they could undergo further testing. This decision resulted from an order of the B.C. government to cease use of approximately 600 M-26 Tasers when tests revealed that the weapons were not performing properly. According to Elliot the Tasers were “under-delivering a charge, not over-delivering.” Taser International, who produces the weapons, said “[a] lower energy output equates to a higher safety margin and therefore, the medical safety of these devices is not in question.”

Elliot confessed that it is the RCMP’s objective to test all of their weapons. He further stated that “I cannot tell you we have currently completed that testing.” To make matters worse, the RCMP’s testing of the Tasers did not reveal the same defects that were uncovered when the B.C. government tested them.

Before the order from the B.C. government, the RCMP were in the process of replacing the M-26 Taser models (the older models now being tested) with "'the more reliable' and smaller X-26 Taser,” the same model that four officers used to shock Robert Dziekanski, who died in 2007.

Elliot further stated that “[w]e want to make sure that the weapon…in the odd case that it is resorted to, that it does what our officers should expect it to do...”

Posted by Ashley Paterson (Law II) (LEAP Summer Intern)

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