To Taser or not to Taser
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To Taser or not to Taser

2005_3_8tasers.jpgEarly this morning police arrested a man wielding two knives at the corner of Yonge and Wellesley. But the arrest was far from normal, police could not subdue the man and had to pin him to a bike rack using a police cruiser, here’s the video. Bet they didn’t teach you that at the academy.
Bystanders were apparently calling for police to taser the man which raised questions about why Toronto police were not all equipped with stun guns. Frankly, Torontoist is glad that not all our police officers are equipped with tasers. The stun guns work by overloading that person’s nervous system with 50,000 volts of electricity. In Vancouver, where all of the police are equipped with tasers, a number of people have died after being tasered. The huge jolt of electricity may actually be fatal to people who are high on certain drugs or simply in an agitated mental state. BC’s chief coroner is now looking into the role that tasers might have in police custody deaths. Even Amnesty International is concerned over the over-use of stun guns by police forces.
Other North American jurisdictions have also had problems with excessive use of tasers. In Florida over-zealous police officers took to tasering a first-grader which prompted a school superintendent to ask that officers, “refrain from deploying or discharging Tasers against elementary school students in Miami-Dade Public County Schools.”
2005_3_8tasers2.jpgIf deaths caused by stun guns weren’t enough of a concern there’s also the spectre of lawsuits. Torontoist understands that many police forces view stun guns as an effective way of incapicating violent suspects and we wouldn’t want to endanger the lives and safety of the police. But we also know that the force can’t afford to fight off lawsuits or to combat the bad press that a wide scale deployment of tasers could bring.
Photo: CP24 and Canadian Press