The non conformer's Canadian Weblog

December 17, 2008

The murderous RCMP

The Canadian Press   OTTAWA – Opposition parties want the RCMP to stop using Taser stun guns after the force refused to reclassify the weapons to restrict use.  The Liberals and NDP say the Mounties missed a parliamentary committee’s Dec. 15 deadline to categorize the 50,000-volt electronic devices as impact weapons. Reclassifying Tasers would limit their use to situations where a person assaults police or the public, or poses a serious threat of harm or death.  An all-party committee of MPs called for the restriction last June until Taser safety claims are supported by impartial studies.  The public safety committee also recommended the RCMP revise its policy on stun gun use to include clear and strict guidelines – as is the case for actual guns – that would limit multiple firings. 
 Liberal public safety critic Mark Holland says the Mounties have done little in response.  “In a couple of those things, they said they’ve done something, but we don’t know exactly what and we’re not given any real details,” he said Tuesday.  “That’s just not acceptable. It’s not like they’ve had two weeks, they’ve had six months.”  The Taser can be fired from a distance of several metres and cycled repeatedly once steel probes puncture the skin or clothing.  The guns can also be used multiple times in up-close stun mode – a zap likened to leaning on a hot stove – sometimes causing blisters or burns. 
The RCMP says reclassifying the Taser as recommended by the committee could threaten police and public safety.  Sgt. Sylvie Tremblay, an RCMP spokeswoman, said that because Parliament is currently not sitting, “there has been no progress report provided to the committee.”  An August briefing prepared for RCMP Commissioner William Elliott maintains the Taser “is an effective tool with very limited injury rates.”  The force says it has restricted Taser use, improved reporting on stun gun firings and now requires officers to be re-certified in Taser training each year.  Holland says that doesn’t go far enough.  “For an issue that has demanded the national attention as much as this issue has, because of the fact that there have been serious injuries and deaths, we expected a lot more.”  Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski died in October 2007 after RCMP officers repeatedly zapped him and pinned down at Vancouver International Airport. Amateur video of his wrenching final moments was beamed around the world as Tasers became water-cooler talk for outraged viewers.  Others defended the stun guns that remain an overwhelmingly popular tool with police. 


 In all, more than 20 people in Canada have died after being hit with a Taser.  Mounties across Canada have used their stun guns more than 5,000 times in the last seven years. 
NDP deputy leader Thomas Mulcair said the rules for Taser use remain unclear.  “The mistake that’s been made over the past few years is to perceive the Taser as being electric pepper spray or an electric night stick – something that could control someone who was in difficulty,” he said.  “Unfortunately now, with over 20 deaths, it’s incredibly obvious to anyone who looks at the situation, that we’ve got to mark a pause for the use of the Taser right now, simply because it’s been proven abundantly clear that they’re too dangerous to be used without proper rules. And we don’t have proper rules.”  The RCMP sent several of its stun guns to the testing lab in response to a new analysis that found some Tasers pack more of a shock than the manufacturer promises, raising questions about their safety.  British Columbia and Quebec also announced plans to test older Tasers following the report.”

The murderous RCMP who think they are not accountable need to be brought to justice still too..

Canadian Press TORONTO – The Ontario government has ordered a new review of some Tasers used by police to make sure they are functioning properly. Concerns arose after CBC reported that one Taser model, the X26, used by police forces sent out higher voltage than specified by the manufacturer. A government spokesman says police in Ontario have been asked to test and provide an inventory of X26 models manufactured before 2006.  Tony Brown of the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services says there are about 2,000 conducted-energy weapons used by police in Ontario, excluding those used by the RCMP. The province started its own review of the use of Tasers earlier this year, which Brown says should be concluded early in the new year. But police don’t have to report back to the ministry with the results from the Taser tests. “We have every confidence that the police services will take the actions necessary,” Brown said. More than 20 people in Canada have died after being zapped with a Taser, but Taser International says the devices cannot be blamed for the deaths. In British Columbia last week, all stun guns acquired before Jan. 1, 2006, were pulled from service for further testing. Alberta also announced it would test all X26 models purchased before Jan. 1, 2006. Unlike several other jurisdictions across the country, Alberta won’t take the Tasers out of circulation unless tests show there’s something wrong. Last week, B.C. prosecutors said there would be no charges against four RCMP officers who used a Taser to stun Polish citizen Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport before he died in October 2007. A review found Dziekanski’s death was not directly caused by the Taser jolts but they were a contributing factor, along with heart disease, alcohol withdrawal, and decreased ability to breathe due to an officer kneeling on him. Tasers have been approved for use by police in Ontario since 2002, Brown said.

do see also
and justice for all…

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