Ontario to allow all cops to use stun guns after teenager's death - Macleans.ca

Ontario to allow all cops to use stun guns after teenager’s death


TORONTO – Ontario is the latest province to permit all frontline police officers to carry stun guns, following the fatal shooting of a Toronto teenager that’s sparked public outrage.

Quebec is now the lone holdout among the provinces.

It is now up to local police services in Ontario to decide whether they want to equip all their officers with stun guns, which are currently restricted to supervisors and specialists, such as tactical units and hostage rescue teams.

Police forces will also have to foot the bill if they want to arm their officers with Tasers — costing about $1,500 each — which will put pressure on municipal budgets.

Ontario police chiefs and associations have been pushing the government for years to expand the use of stun guns, to no avail. Coroner’s inquests have also recommended expanding the use of stun guns since 2004.

But the governing Liberals insist the Sammy Yatim’s death had nothing to do with their change of heart, even though the announcement was made on the one-month anniversary of the fatal police shooting.

The decision came after “extensive consultation” and was supposed to be announced in June, Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur said Tuesday.

But Meilleur wouldn’t say whether Yatim’s death could have been prevented if Ontario had made the change sooner.

“It was not a decision that was taken lightly,” she said. “We have all seen what happened at the airport in Vancouver.”

Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski died in 2007 after being stunned with a Taser at the airport by RCMP officers. A public inquiry found that the police officers were not justified in using the Taser.

Many police forces, including the Ontario Provincial Police and Toronto Police Services, say they plan to train and equip their officers with stun guns, in addition to the sidearm, extendable baton and pepper spray that they currently carry.

OPP deputy commissioner Vince Hawkes said it should be implemented within two years.

“We have to look at the pros and cons of, first of all, finding the money within our organization where it’s a priority, and then develop a transition plan, the purchase, go through all of that, including the training piece,” he said

The training takes eight months, but Meilleur said they’ll extend it to a full year.

The use of force by police in Ontario has come under scrutiny after Yatim, 18, was shot multiple times and Tasered by police during a confrontation on an empty streetcar.

Videos of the incident prompted hundreds of people to take to the streets to demand justice.

The Special Investigations Unit has charged Toronto police Const. James Forcillo with second-degree murder.

Ontario’s ombudsman has launched his own investigation into the shooting, probing what kind of direction the provincial government provides to police for defusing conflict situations.

Retired justice Dennis O’Connor has been asked by Toronto police chief Bill Blair to lead a separate review of police procedures, use of force and police response to emotionally disturbed people.

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Ontario to allow all cops to use stun guns after teenager’s death

  1. Either way, could lead to more deaths. Heart and Stroke says 5% of Ontarians have Heart Disease which by Stats Can. would be 65,000. I’m sure a heavy jolt of electricity wouldn’t harm them. Ya, right! I’m sure all their tests were conducted on healthy volunteers checked out by medical staff prior to their stun gun testing. Police would be way more willing to use these then to fire off a gun, which would cause more incidents.

  2. In the Use of Force model, or continuum, the Taser is ranked one notch below firearm. This means that an officer must assess the situation he (or she) is facing, and select from physical force, baton, and pepper spray before resorting to Taser.

    I imagine this situation; a violent, resistant person armed with a baseball bat who becomes assaultive toward another person or a police officer in a public place, say a street corner. The officer might reason that his baton would be equal force, but on someone’s camera, the injuries that might result will look particularly horrid, “but If I taser him there will be nothing to photograph except the suspect’s fall to the ground.”

    So, the officer might, in a second of decision, resort to the Taser first. It would seem to be the more humane option, unless the person dies from the jolt of electricity, but the decision to deploy the Taser may be judged later as an infraction of the Use of Force model and, if the assailant dies, it could result in a charge of murder against the officer.

    And if the assailant above is armed with a knife, the officer might reach for the Taser when he should reach for the sidearm. The Officer has just one chance; if the Taser is discharged when the officer is a few inches too far from the assailant, the probe might not reach the assailant and the officer might die before he can drop the Taser and reach the firearm. And if the officer is close enough to use the Taser, by inches, and doesn’t realise that in the second he must decide, he could opt for his sidearm and later find himself charged with murder for taking the wrong Use of Force option.

    I imagine every officer issued with a Taser will be thinking about this kind of situation from the moment he or she holds the weapon.

  3. I can never understand the “shoot to kill” method of dispatching a probable homicidal, confrontational, individual. One would think that with all the pistol shooting practise an officer has, that he or she should be able to draw their weapon in a timely fashion and shoot the victim in the legs.

    • Because shooting people in the legs is stupid, this response makes me so mad because it comes up every time the tazer debate comes up. 1) When you shoot someone, your shooting to kill that person. 2) If you shoot someone in the legs they probably going to die, lots of huge ateries and viens in a generally confined portion of the body. If anything they might just suffer more. 3) Probability wise its easier, faster, and more effective to shoot someone in the chest.

      • Calling someone else’s comments as stupid is just as bad. Why don’t you talk to a cop, as I did, before you make your “wise” statements. You might “probability” learn something.