Local Tasers tested

Two stun guns used by Lacombe Police have been deemed safe to use after provincial testing found them operating within manufacturer specifications.

Two stun guns used by Lacombe Police have been deemed safe to use after provincial testing found them operating within manufacturer specifications.

On Thursday, the Solicitor General and Public Security ministry released independent testing results of 412 Tasers used by municipal police forces across Alberta, excluding the RCMP. Of those, 90 per cent were found operating within manufacturer specifications.

But 50 of those tested will be pulled from service and either destroyed or repaired through the manufacturer.

Lacombe Police Service Sgt. Rocky Rauckman said the two tested were among older models bought before Jan. 1, 2006. Two newer ones used by Lacombe will be tested at a later date.

Rauckman said he was confident the stun guns would make the grade.

“We haven’t had a problem with them,” said Rauckman.

He wasn’t surprised that 50 didn’t meet manufacturer specifications since there isn’t “a product in today’s day and age that would pass 100 per cent.”

The stun guns were introduced more than five years ago to the small police force of 14 members. They are all trained to use them.

Rauckman said the Tasers are used about six times annually.

“I think outside testing would give (the public) confidence,” Rauckman said.

Tasers are stun guns that emit a five-second burst of 50,000 volts of electricity intended to temporarily paralyze a person. Controversy has emerged in recent years as to their safety after people have died.

Lawyer Will Willier, acting on behalf of the family of 28-year-old-Jason Doan who died several weeks after being Tasered by three Mounties in Red Deer in August 2006, said he’s glad independent testing was done because police forces and others have relied on statistics from the manufacturer of Taser.

“They’re saying this Taser fires 50,000 volts, but nobody was testing that,” Willier said. “Now, the governments are one by one (testing them).”

Willier didn’t feel reassured by the results, which showed one in 10 are not meeting specifications.

“That’s only the testing,” Willier said. “There’s also the use, the training with how dangerous these devices are and in what circumstances they should be used.”

MPB Technologies of Kanata, Ont., conducted the provincewide testing. Of those, 339 were older models before Jan. 1, 2006. Forty-two of those didn’t meet manufacturer specifications.

Of 73 newer model ones also tested, eight didn’t pass.

“In the interest of public and officer safety, we are now moving ahead with the immediate testing of the other 735 Tasers still in use by Alberta police agencies,” said Alberta Solicitor General Fred Lindsay in a news release. “We need to ensure the public maintains confidence in our police and in the training and tools they have to do a very difficult job.”

Department spokesman Andy Weiler said there were certain criteria tested, including whether the stun guns were emitting enough pulses. In 29 cases, they didn’t.

Weilder said of the remaining 735 to be tested in about two to three months time, 300 Tasers are being used by the RCMP.

The RCMP had earlier carried out its own independent testing of older model Tasers.

Red Deer city RCMP had sent six of these off for testing. Supt. Brian Simpson was unavailable for comment on Thursday.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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