Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Canadian Mental Health Association recommends special training for officers armed with tasers

The Saskatchewan division of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has recommended that police officers receive special training on how to deal with mentally ill people and that those skills are implemented before administering a Taser.

The brief from the CMHA comes after the Saskatchewan Police Commission, like many others across Canada, has begun to review how Tasers are used by their employees. Specifically, the Commission is reviewing whether they will allow their front-line municipal officers to carry Tasers. The CMHA recommends a “combination of effective and appropriate training and policy changes for the use of conducted energy devices,” that “crisis intervention training be incorporated in police recruit training and that there be ongoing training for all officers,” and that “an independent investigation be launched into the long-term health consequences for people who are stunned by CEDs.”

The use of CEDs is of particular concern to Canadian citizens as a result of the many high-profile cases that have resulted from their questionably improper administration. But what the CMHA’s brief should symbolize is the extreme importance of proper training for police officers in dealing with those that are mentally ill under all circumstances. Just three months ago, LEAP reported on a Newfoundland story where police mistook an autistic boy for a drunk, and threw him in the local lockup overnight.

Posted by Ashley Paterson (Law II)

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