Saturday, December 15, 2007

RCMP Told To Curb Taser Use

Earlier this week, Paul Kennedy, head of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, released an interim report outlining recommendations for the government on the Mounties' use of the Taser stun guns.

The Commission is an independent civilian agency.

Kennedy's report does not call for a moratorium on the weapon. However, it concludes that the federal police force needs to limit its use, increase training for officers and conduct more research on its effects.

The report comes 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 noted "usage creep". At first, Taser use was restricted to subduing individuals who resisted arrest, were combative or were suicidal. But officers have begun using the weapons in other non-threatening situations.

The report makes 10 recommendations:

  • allow Taser use only in those situations where an individual is behaving in a manner classified as being "combative" or posing a risk of "death or grievous bodily harm" to the officer, themselves or the general public.
  • only use Tasers where an individual appears to be experiencing the condition(s) of excited delirium when the behaviour is combative or poses a risk of death or grievous bodily harm to the officer, the individual or the general public.
  • immediately communicate this change in use of force classification to all members.
  • immediately redesign the training members receive
  • immediately amend the Taser policy by instituting the requirement that re-certification occur every two years.
  • immediately appoint a National Use of Force Coordinator tomonitor compliance with national policies, procedures and training for all use of force techniques and equipment
  • immediately institute and enforce stricter reporting requirements Taser use to ensure that appropriate records are completed and forwarded to the national data base after every use of the weapon.
  • produce a Quarterly Report on the use of Tasers
  • produce an Annual Report on the use of Tasers that will be distributed to the Minister of Public Safety, the Commissioner of the RCMP, the Chair of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP and all Commanding Officers in each Division.
  • continue to be engaged in Taser-related research looking at medical, legal and social aspects of the weapon's use.
For background, see:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:00 pm

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