VICTORIA — RCMP are pulling older-model Tasers nationwide after testing conducted for the British Columbia government found the weapons failed to meet manufacturer’s specifications 80 per cent of the time.
Mounties say all of its M26 conducted energy weapons will be removed from active service until each unit is tested.
The announcement follows a B.C. government decision to order RCMP to immediately stop using 578 M26 model Tasers it had in its B.C. arsenal after tests showed the weapons didn’t always meet specifications.
Independent testing completed last month for the province showed the same models used by municipal police forces, sheriffs and corrections did not meet manufacturer’s specifications 80 per cent of the time.
“The RCMP will continue testing the M26 CEWs (conducted energy weapons) in its inventory across the country. Only those confirmed to be functioning appropriately will be returned to service,” the national police force said in a statement.
The first round of the B.C. testing, with results released in April, suggested the weapons failed to meet specifications 10 per cent of the time but the most recent results found a much higher rate of failure.
Of the 128 units that were tested, 102 failed to meet the specifications. All but one of those had output below the manufacturer’s specifications.
The B.C. solicitor general’s department said that of the 102 units that failed the test, 25 came from municipal police forces, 75 from sheriffs and two from corrections officers.
Last year, British Columbia pulled from service 82 stun guns bought prior to Jan. 1 2006 and still in use by municipal police forces and provincial corrections after tests showed them misfiring.
Solicitor General Rich Coleman said the M-26 units can’t be put back into service by Mounties in B.C. until they’re independently tested, repaired and re-tested.
The RCMP pointed out in a statement that the units in question produced less electrical output than expected 90 per cent of the time.
“The RCMP continues to believe that when properly used in appropriate situations by officers who are well trained, the CEW is a useful tool which contributes to the safety and security of the public and police,” the force said in a statement.
Mounties say they still have more than 1,500 newer-model Tasers.
The weapons have been under increased scrutiny since the October 2007 death of Robert Dziekanski after he was jolted with an RCMP Taser at Vancouver’s airport. The Taser deployed on Dziekanski was an X26 model, and not one of the M26 models affected by the recall.
The B.C. solicitor general’s ministry said testing on 280 conducted energy weapons purchased by provincial agencies after 2006 is also being done and the RCMP in British Columbia have been directed to do the same.