Restrictive Taser-use guidelines for police could prevent the weapons from being used early enough to diffuse potentially deadly situations, the head of Vancouver police said yesterday.

“We do not pick and chose our clients,” said Vancouver Chief Const. Jim Chu at the Braidwood Inquiry into Taser use by municipal police. “And that means we must be prepared to use force when necessary.”

The inquiry was called following the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver’s airport in October.

The chief said he expects his officers to use their presence and dialogue to resolve situations without force whenever possible.

When dialogue fails, he said, the officer — using training and experience — must be free to choose the appropriate level of force to deal with a situation.

“Overly restrictive guidelines on CEW (conductive energy weapons) use are not in the public interest,” he said. “They will prevent an officer from using the CEW early enough to prevent an escalation of an incident.”

He said the Taser should retain its position as an “intermediate weapon” in the use-of-force continuum and that officers have a clear understanding of when the weapons should be used.

Last year in Vancouver, the weapon was deployed less than 100 times in more than 25,000 arrests and more than 200,000 calls for service.

Latest From ...