Friday, July 24, 2009

Braidwood Inquiry releases Phase 1 report on use of tasers

The long-awaited Phase 1 of the Braidwood Report was publicly released this week, by the Braidwood Commission on Conducted Energy Use, entitled Restoring Public Confidence: Restricting the Use of Conducted Energy Weapons in British Columbia. The report was commissioned as a response to the death of Robert Dziekanski, who died minutes after a RCMP officer shocked him with a conducted energy weapon (CEW), commonly referred to as a Taser, at the Vancouver International Airport. The Braidwood Commission was created to inquire into and report on how CEWs are deployed by those law enforcement agents that use them.

The first part of the report makes 19 recommendations. Braidwood notes that when making recommendations he was guided by several principles – "that the police are subject to civilian authority, that the police must be given appropriate tools to do their job, that the police should use the least force necessary to manage the risk, and that the use of force must be proportionate to the seriousness of the situation." The recommendations in the report can be summarized as follows:

-that CEWs be used only to enforce federal criminal laws;
-that CEWs are not used unless the subject is causing bodily harm or will imminently do so and that no lesser force option can prevent risk of such harm;
-that a curriculum for crisis intervention training be approved and implemented, and that when dealing with emotionally disturbed people officers use de-escalation techniques before using a CEW;
-that an electrical current is not deployed from a CEW for longer than 5 seconds unless the officer believes that a 5-second discharge was not effective in eliminating the risk of bodily harm;
-that paramedic assistance be requested in every medically high-risk situation;
-that if an officer has a CEW they also have an automated defibrillator readily available and that province-wide standards are set in relation to CEWs;
-that the Police Academy be responsible for training officers in the use of CEWs;
-that CEWs be added to the list of restricted products under the Hazardous Products Act and that regulations are created prescribing the circumstances under which CEWs may be imported in, and sold in, Canada;
-that every CEW in use be periodically tested and that if a serious death or injury occurs when a CEW has been used that the weapon be withdrawn from service and its electrical output tested;
-that there be an incident report form to be completed whenever a CEW is used;

-that a CEW research program be created, as well as a special committee established, to review the use of CEWs three years after this report is made public, and
-that as of 2012, the RCMP must abide by the rules, policies and procedures of CEW use that are applicable to provincially regulated law enforcement agencies.

The B.C. government stated yesterday that they accept the recommendations and will undertake implementation of them immediately.

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

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