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Making Waves

Tasers have to be at fault

By Manny Paiva

Every police officer in Canada that should have a taser.

For most of us -- that is a pretty scary thought given the news headlines about tasers over the last few months.

But that was just one of the comments that stood out from a news conference on Parliament Hill Tuesday as Canada's two main police associations defended the use of the electroshock weapon.

How about some other comments....

"Tasers are safe and have saved many lives."

"There is no proof tasers have caused any deaths in Canada."

Yeah that's right -- even though Polish national Robert Dziekanski died at a Vancouver airport in 2007 after being tasered -- Owen Sound Police Chief Tom Kaye says there is no proof tasers have caused any deaths.

Now I am really looking forward to the results of that inquiry which is underway.

Kaye was front and centre at this news conference as the Vice President of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.

And he cited other factors in these deaths that have been linked to tasers -- something called "in custody death syndrome" -- which can occur after the use of pepper spray for example.

But yet groups like Amnesty International has documented over 245 deaths that occurred after the use of Tasers.

And in my mind -- it's similar to other stories we hear from Police for example with motor vehicle collisions -- where weather, speed, not wearing a seatbelt were all contributing factors in the death of a person behind the wheel.

From Where I Sit, you have to single out tasers at least as a contributing factor in deaths.

I am glad to hear Kaye and the rest of the Police Chiefs admit some misuse -- that tasers have been used too often and should no longer be used on peaceful suspects.

Obviously, the first step is for Police and our governments to conduct rigorous training to ensure officers know how to use tasers.

I'm Manny Paiva


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