Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tasers on Curb: Kennedy issues recommendations on Taser usage

Paul E. Kennedy, Chair of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP who was tasked by Stockwell Day to investigate the use of Conducted Energy Weapons released his interim report today. Having examined the use of the weapons commonly known as tasers in recent times by the RCMP, his report was requested after the death of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver International Airport on October 14, 2007.

Kennedy provided a ten point recommendation list, aimed to provide for better control over the controversial weapons used by Canadian police departments. Including a couple of interesting recommendations that could see the use of the electronic weapons reduced depending on the scenario faced by attending officers to any complaint.

The First two of the recommendations provide some guidance for the use of the taser weapons and what constitutes a proper introduction of the weapon.

Recommendation 1: The RCMP immediately restrict the use of the conducted energy weapon by classifying it as an "impact weapon" in the use of force model and allow its 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. This includes use of the device in both push stun and probe modes.

Recommendation 2: The RCMP only use the conducted energy weapon in situations 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.

The remaining recommendations work on the training, reporting and accountability phases of the weapons use.

They can be found in the News release summary found here, or for those who really enjoy the details of bureaucratic reports they can soon access the entire report from the CPC website here.

The key to the change of direction for the use of the weapon is to provide the police with the full support of the public as they go about their duties. A trust that had been shaken in recent weeks by high profile incidents, the most graphic and controversial of which was the death of Mr. Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport in October.

It's the hope that by addressing the concerns of the public on these weapons, that the proper changes will be made in their use, providing the public with a sense that they will only be intrdocued when deemed appropriate.

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