Sgt. Mark Tonner, a Vancouver police officer, wrote a thoughtful op-ed piece for The Province which was published today.
The article is entitled: Price in public opinion could outweigh good that Tasers do bring [LINK]
Sgt Tonner is making some good points. But his entire argument is based upon the relatively new position that tasers are used to replace going hands-on (fighting) with resistive subjects. This is the new "Reducing Police Injuries" argument (introduced after all previous pro-taser arguments have been shredded).
But tasers were brought into Canada on the promise that they would be used sparingly and their use would replace gunfire. Now here we have a front-line police officer clearly stating that tasers are primarily used to replace basic hands-on techniques. That wasn't the original justification for tasers.
Okay, so let's back-up on tasers and start the trade-off analysis again. Is it worth the actual overuse, abuse and misuse, and the risk of death? Many people agree with Sgt Tonner that it might be time to package these devices up and send them back.
On the issue of public opinion - public perception didn't arrive on a silver platter from an alien source. This negative public perception of tasers and their all-too-frequent overuse, abuse and misuse arrived on the nightly news. And the news organizations didn't make it up. Elderly men really are being tasered in their hospital bed. Children really are being tasered in their own bedrooms. And a tired and confused immigrant was tasered and died almost immediately.
This blog, and others such as Truth ... Not Tasers, document many, many, many such crazy un-Canadian examples of police misusing, abusing and over-using tasers (and BC seems to lead the pack for some reason).
Not to mention the very bad karma of handing out a moderate risk of death to people that did nothing to deserve it.
Not to mention that such typical use of tasers in Canada is on an extremely weak legal footing, what with being classified as a Prohibited Firearm and being used to apply 'torture' to the victim in order to force (verb) them to comply. Lawful force is a noun. Force (as a verb) is also called 'torture' (CC s. 269.1).
I agree with Sgt Tonner's conclusion: tasers are not worth the negatives.
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