Police organizations in Vancouver, British Columbia and Canada defended their use of Tasers yesterday, saying the devices are a safe and vital tool for protecting officers and the public.

The statements were made as the RCMP officers involved in the Tasering of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski took the stand for the second day at the inquiry into his death.

While the RCMP recently tightened its rules around Taser use, including its guidelines regarding use against acutely agitated suspects, other police forces are still defending their usage.

Tom Stamatakis, president of the British Columbia Police Association, released a statement saying he supports the use of the weapons “within clear guidelines.”

“The Taser is an effective intermediate compliance tool that reduces the need for police to rely on higher levels of force,” he said.

His statement was issued shortly after the Canadian Police Association and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), released a joint document supporting the use of the weapons.

Tom Kaye, spokesperson for CACP, said there’s no evidence a conducted energy weapon has ever been a direct cause of death, adding they’re no more likely to kill someone than pepper spray.

Vancouver Chief Const. Jim Chu echoed these sentiments, but added that, like any use of force, Tasers can cause injuries “or worse.”

“Extensive training, clear tactical guidelines, compliance and equipment-testing checks can all greatly reduce that risk,” he said.
with Files from Torstar News Service