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Monday, June 09, 2008 

Commons Public Safety Committee Reluctant To Ban Tasers

Apparently, the all-party House of Commons Public Safety Committee is about to recommend that Canada’s police forces continue to use Tasers but that their use must be restricted to those episodes where the only other course of action would be with lethal force from a firearm.

It seems to me that is exactly what the Taser was intended for when it found its way into the hands of Canadian Police forces in the first place. However, somewhere along the way, Tasers became the weapon of choice that police used to enforce compliance. News stories abound of inappropriate use of Tasers on people who tried to skip paying the fare on Vancouver public transit, a senior citizen who was double parked, an octogenarian in a hospital bed as well as the most notable Robert Dziekanski case.

I have to wonder what it is in the human condition that allows someone with a uniform to think that they are so superior to another individual that they can zap them with high voltage discharges simply because they will not comply to supposed ‘authority’?

Law makers can legislate proper use criteria for Tasers, but it is the human component that needs to be addressed here. Far too often, it is obvious that the training of our police is the problem. The tactics used by the RCMP officers who killed Robert Dziekanski were probably ‘textbook’. However, the heavy handed use of these tactics simply did not match the circumstances of their use and Dziekanski was killed by police with near execution precision.

The Commons Public Safety Committee needs to look beyond the Taser itself as a tool, and ensure that they address the circumstances that see this tool constantly being misused by police forces. Canadians should not have to live in an environment where they have mere seconds to either comply or die. There is a disturbing authoritarian mind set that has settled on those who use the Taser for compliance. Those police officers who can’t distinguish the difference between situations where lethal force is required and those where compliance is requested should not be in uniform. They are potential killers. We have ample examples of this in the news.

Ottawa Sun

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