Friday, September 12, 2008

RCMP Report on Taser Usage

The Toronto Star has obtained a study on the use of Taser stun guns that was commissioned by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Commissioner.

The June 2008 study on "conducted energy weapons" (CEWs) was published by the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, an independent civilian agency. The newspaper requested a copy under the Access to Information Act.

An interim report was issued in December 2007.

The study was undertaken in the wake of the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski on October 14, 2007. He died after four RCMP officers zapped him with a Taser at least two times in the Vancouver International Airport. The weapon discharges 50,000 volts into the target's body.

The report finds that the RCMP relied too much on the advice of the weapon's American manufacturer and did not consult enough with medical professionals.

According to the Executive Summary:

"Following the release of the Interim Report, the RCMP moved to implement some of the recommendations, albeit at a much slower rate than the Commission had expected. The RCMP failed to implement the primary recommendation of immediately reclassifying the CEW as an impact weapon and allowing for deployment only in situations where an individual was behaving in a manner classified as 'combative' or posing a risk of 'death or grievous bodily harm' to the member, themselves or the general public. The Commission reaffirms this recommendation. "

"The RCMP failed to implement the second recommendation related to 'excited delirium.' RCMP training teaches that 'excited delirium' is a medical emergency wherein gaining control of
the individual for the purpose of treatment is paramount and where the CEW is viewed as the best option to gain that control. The Commission disagrees with this perspective and reaffirms its recommendation."

"The Commission recommended that the RCMP institute and enforce stricter reporting structures. The RCMP is in the process of taking positive steps in this direction, and the Commission is aware that some Divisions are attempting to strengthen their reporting structures and oversight processes, albeit at differing speeds across the country. National uniformity is essential."

"The Commission also recommended that the RCMP produce both quarterly and annual statistical reports on CEW use by its members. The Commission has yet to see a quarterly report, though six (6) months have elapsed."

"The RCMP did appoint a National Use of Force Coordinator and to its credit some Divisions went further and proactively created a Divisional Use of Force Coordinator to augment the work being done at the national level (...)"

"The Commission continues to have three interrelated concerns: 1) that the inappropriate assessment of a subject’s behaviour has resulted in elevating the level of intervention beyond what was acceptable according to the RCMP’s use of force model; 2) that the position of the CEW on the use of force model allows for the deployment of the weapon far too early in police encounters; and 3) that RCMP data collection and analysis practices for the CEW usage database are both ineffective and inefficient. "


"The Final Report focuses on two main areas: an in-depth statistical analysis of the RCMP CEW database, and a comparative analysis of other police forces’ CEW policies."

More from today's Toronto Star.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:31 pm


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