Taser changes go ahead

Significant changes have been made on how RCMP use Tasers against individuals following the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski in 2007, says Red Deer RCMP Supt. Brian Simpson.

Significant changes have been made on how RCMP use Tasers against individuals following the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski in 2007, says Red Deer RCMP Supt. Brian Simpson.

The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP has issued a final report to say the RCMP is working on addressing all 16 recommendations that the commission made within the Oct. 2009 report into Dziekanski’s death.

The man died after being Tasered five times at Vancouver International Airport.

Simpson said a lot of changes have happened since then regarding the RCMP’s intervention model, the use of the weapons, and training.

“The use of the weapon, as to when it will be deployed and not deployed, has changed,” he said.

The RCMP must now limit conducted energy weapons (CEWs) to situations where a person is causing bodily harm or when it’s reasonably believed the subject will cause bodily harm immediately.

In total, the RCMP has implemented 11 recommendations so far.

Tasers emit a five-second burst of 50,000 volts of electricity intended to temporarily paralyze a person.

“The training requirements have now gone from every three years to every year,” said Simpson.

The RCMP is now ensuring the conducted energy weapons are tested independently and that an ongoing testing regime is done, according to the commission’s recommendation. The testing is done yearly, said Simpson.

“They are good recommendations, but a lot of them have been enacted,” he said.

The RCMP is currently re-writing and updating its note-taking policy, which will include increased supervisory monitoring of notes to verify quality and compliance. The RCMP Commissioner commented extensively on the importance of note taking.

Two of the 16 recommendations have been partially implemented.

This includes the RCMP emphasizing de-escalation of incidents, but they haven’t specifically addressed communicating with individuals who cannot themselves meaningfully communicate.

Three other recommendations have been addressed as a result of separate initiatives.

The commission also reported late last week that the police force accepted all but one of the 23 findings within the commission’s report into the October 2007 death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport.

The supported findings include, that the RCMP agreed that the use of the conducted energy weapon (CEW) against Dziekanski was premature and inappropriate.

The force also agreed RCMP members present should have more actively provided first aid and monitored Dziekanski’s condition.

The force only disagreed with the commission’s criticism of the use of a force expert who was consulted during the police investigation of Dziekanski’s death.

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