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Should More Canadian Police be Armed with Tasers?
Tasers offer an alternative to Canadian policing; giving a less lethal option for officers who carry guns and an effective deterrent in order to control dangerous situations. Tasers have more benefits to Canadian officers than most other techniques of de-escalation. The usage of these Tasers has become more popular throughout the world, whilst also being a safer option compared to traditional methods of enforcement (House of Commons Canada, n.d). The government of Canada’s policies regarding the safe use of Tasers helps officers make better decisions based on instances which have happened due to misusage. It is broadly known that the effects of Tasers on people can be harmful, but it has been shown that the effects are only deadly in specific cases where use of force has not been used appropriately or certain medical complications are present. Yet the use of Tasers in Canada has the potential to counteract criminal negligence. The benefits of Taser use make this less than lethal device a Canadian policing necessity.
Usage of Tasers
Usage of Tasers, or Conductive Energy Weapons, has grown in the past decade. They have become handy tools for officers to use in order to sustain safety. It can be used in place of a gun, which minimizes the risk of someone being killed, as 99.7% of subjects exposed to a Taser wound sustained no or minimal damage to their bodies (House of Commons Canada, n.d). This shows that with appropriate use, and following ministry guidelines, the use of Tasers is more effective than traditional methods of guns. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services states that all Taser holding officers in Canada must be ministry-certified with a Use-of-Force Trainer as well as continuously maintain refresher or familiarization training in order to keep up to date (Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, 2012). This training teaches each officer that the use of Tasers in Canada is to be strictly used when necessary in order to gain control of an offender (Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, 2012). It also reminds officers that the most powerful de-escalation tool in any situation is their own voice. When Tasers must be used, they seem to be quite effective, as 85% of suspects were controlled within the first Taser discharge to their body (Sage Journals, 2007). This calls upon the officer’s better judgment in order to know when is appropriate to use a Taser. They must consider the safety of not only themselves, but of surrounding people, and the offender (House of Commons Canada, n.d). In this regard, Tasers are a less than lethal weapon, which makes them safer and more effective.
Tasers are also being used by criminals, typically operating without proper training and knowledge of the techniques. This is most likely because one could purchase a Taser online for less than four dollars. This can be shown in the city of Cape Town, where officers are noticing an increase in people using these (Cape Argus, 2010). It is extremely important that officers know how to operate these devices such that they could take control of a situation while knowing exactly what the opposing side has. It is also ideal that officers have the same or higher devices as their opposition. This would mean that officers would benefit from the use of Tasers, because it would give them more experience and would help them when faced with a situation that could be potentially dangerous.
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Tasers in the Law
The Tasers which are registered by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (M26, X26) are both used in the United Kingdom as registered Tasers (Jha, 2011). Since 2008, the United Kingdom has only experienced four deaths due to Tasers typically when the person had medical complications (Jha, 2011). This is significantly lower than the number of deaths when a gun is used. In Australia, Taser use is considered less lethal, and is used to resolve issues with offenders without inflicting serious harm (Queensland Police Service, n.d). Australia also aimed to have all police officers trained in the use of Tasers by 2011 (Queensland Police Service, n.d). These implements of safety and knowledge of medical complications aid Canada in the knowledge of effective Taser usage. It is essential for officers to know the appropriate use, and to use the Taser as a deterrent before a weapon.
Specifically in Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have approved Taser use as of December 2001 (House of Commons Canada, n.d). Since then, a few less than three thousand Tasers have been issued across Canada (House of Commons Canada, n.d). In Toronto, only Sergeants and Supervisors are trained as well as equipped with Tasers (Singh, 2013). They are required to learn from a registered Police College such as the Toronto Police College, and are also required to complete yearly refreshment courses in order to make sure that police are using the Taser in the more effective and safe way possible (Singh, 2013). Tasers are used in Canadian policing for minimizing injuries and as an effective deterrent in order to protect people in dangerous situations.
Threats of Tasers
Tasers, while being much safer than guns, still pose a few threats to those with specific medical conditions. The odds of injury from Tasers were significantly lower in the United States when officers were issued Tasers (MacDonald, 2009). This was because Tasers were designed to not affect the heart, but could affect the heart in certain medical cases such as those who are intoxicated, who have heart defects, and sometimes with the elderly (Jha, 2011). Yet, sometimes the volt of electricity that Tasers emit does not work right away and people may need to be hit with the voltage again. This typically happens due to non-proper discharge, or individual resistance. It is believed that this is solved through training, which teaches the correct placement of the two wires, and the appropriate use as well as technique if one were to not be affected by the voltage. Tasers prove to be the most effective and humane weapon for the Canadian police to use.
More Canadian police officers should be armed with Tasers. This is a safer alternative to the traditional gun which officers carry. Taser holders must be trained, meaning that the only people who legally have access to them are those with extensive training. This has also been a proven method in other countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia. Tasers are less lethal, and therefore can be used in different situations such as; confrontation, violent fights, and to take control of a situation. Tasers also work as a deterrent in order to ensure that people understand that they will be hit with electricity. The health effects are only minimal damage. As well as a very low number of deaths which only happen due to inappropriate use, and heart defects of the person. These benefits and safer instances make Tasers a must-have option for all Canadian police.
Cao, M., Shinbane, J. S., Gillberg, J. M., & Saxon, L. A. (2007). Taser-Induced Rapid Ventricular Myocardial Capture Demonstrated By Pacemaker Intracardiac Electrograms. Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology, 18(8), 876-879. Retrieved October 21, 2013, from http://www.charlydmiller.com/LIB11/2007
Current Guidelines. Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. Ontario, 12 Aug. 2012. Web. Retrieved October 21, 2013, from http://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/english/police_serv/ConductedEnergyWeapons/CEW_main.html
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MacDonald, John M., Robert J. Kaminski, and Michael R. Smith. "The Effect of Less-Lethal Weapons on Injuries in Police Use-of-Force Events." American Journal of Public Health. American Public Health Association, 18 Mar. 2009. Web. Retrieved October 21, 2013, from <http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10>
(2010). Police investigate new Taser syndicate. Cape Argus (South Africa), 1, 3. Retrieved October 21, 2013, from the Infotrac Newsstand database.
"Report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security."Study of the Conductive Energy Weapon–Taser. House of Commons Canada, n.d. Retrieved October 21, 2013, from, <www.parl.gc.ca/Content/HOC/Committee/392/SECU/Reports/RP3582906/392_SECU_Rpt04_PDF/392_SECU_Rpt04-e.pdf>.
Singh, Jasdeep. Email interview. 30 Oct. 2013.
"Stun Guns for Sale, Tasers for Sale, Stun Batons and Pepper Spray." Self Defense Store. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2013. <http://www.self-defensestore.com/>.
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