Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Report: RCMP Taser Use Must be Restricted


The RCMP's watchdog is calling for the force to restrict its use of Tasers, saying the stun guns are increasingly employed to subdue those who are resistant rather than those who pose a threat.

The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP released a report Wednesday outlining 10 recommendations for the government on the Mounties' use of stun guns.

Among them is that the RCMP set up a national use of force co-ordinator to oversee policies and practices concerning Tasers and to make the Mounties more accountable over how they use the weapon.

Tasers also need to be reclassified as an "impact weapon," as they were when initially introduced — meaning they should only be used by officers when an individual is combative or posing a risk of death or grievous bodily harm, the report says.
The report says Tasers are currently being used to subdue those who resist officers, but don't pose a threat — the same situations in which Mounties might use pepper spray.

This is clearly a step in the right direction. While Taser use is by no means always lethal, it sometimes, and quite unpredictably, is.

The weapon's use must be confined to very limited circumustances of legitimate self-defence by officers.

If it is to be used at all.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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