Municipal police officers to carry Tasers in Sask.
Published Monday, January 21, 2013 12:13PM CST
Last Updated Monday, January 21, 2013 7:11PM CST
Municipal police officers in Saskatchewan will soon be allowed to carry Tasers.
The decision comes after a five-year review of the controversial conducted energy weapons by the Saskatchewan Police Commission.
It says the use of Tasers will be subject to strict controls, including a review each time one of the weapons is used. Municipal police officers will have to be trained and certified before being allowed to carry a Taser.
“The commission’s decision only authorizes the use of Tasers in situations where there is imminent and high risk to officers or the public and where other use of force options would be ineffective or inappropriate,” said commission chairman Paul Korpan.
“Tasers are an intermediate weapon. While they provide another use of force option to the use of a firearm, they are not intended as a substitute for lethal force.”
Monday’s decision was applauded by the Saskatchewan Federation of Police Officers, which represents about 1,250 members in six cities across the province.
“We’ve been waiting now for around five years for (conducted energy weapons) to be brought back and although that is a long wait, we respect the time that the commission has spent and the due diligence that they’ve spent in the study of the use of Tasers,” said federation president Evan Bray.
“We look forward to having them as an option for our frontline officers.”
Regina Police Chief Troy Hagen also welcomed the announcement. However, he says it will likely be months before municipal police officers begin carrying Tasers.
“There is a considerable amount of work that still has to be done prior to the actual deployment of these weapons,” Hagen said.
“It will be up to the chief of each municipal police service to make a determination whether or not they want to approve that weapon into their organization.”
Police services that choose to adopt the use of Tasers will have to develop policies that will be subject to approval by the commission.
The 2007 death of Robert Dziekanski brought forth a nationwide review into police use of the controversial stun guns.
The 40-year-old Polish immigrant died on Oct. 14, 2007 after being Tasered five times by four RCMP officers who were responding to a call at the airport.
A video of the confrontation taken by a witness, in which a confused Dziekanski was zapped repeatedly, was seen by millions of people. It triggered public outrage over the use of Tasers and Dziekanski's treatment by police.
With files from CTVNews.ca Staff