By Robert Frank
Laval Police have trained 20 patrol officers to use conductive energy weapons known as tasers and, by this fall, plan to qualify and equip another 20 of them to use the devices.
“Tasers have been used by the tactical squad and at the Laval Police detention facility since 2005,” Sgt. Frédéric Jean told The Suburban. “Now they will be used by officers who are on the road.”
“When time is of the essence, this will diminish the time required to intervene,” he said in an interview.
“Only qualified officers can carry and use the weapon,” Sgt. Jean reassured. “In many cases, deploying the weapon can prevent the use of hand-to-hand combat or other force. Also, in certain cases there have been people who have mental health issues where the taser can be used as a safer alternative to other weapons. It will cause less injury, if used properly, than a firearm will.”
He explained that the additional tasers will put another non-lethal option at more Laval Police officers’ disposal, “like pepper spray and a baton.”
Police officers prefer to resolve tense standoffs with the minimum force they need to use to accomplish their objective and, most of the time; they succeed in avoiding a deadly outcome.
Suspects often give up after officers simply brandish the taser, without having to fire it, he continued. The weapon’s formidable electric arc and laser pointer can also be displayed as a deterrent, to encourage someone to surrender before a shock is administered.
According to Sgt. Jean, Laval Police have only deployed their tasers in such circumstances twice during the past five years: once in 2011, when the electrodes were not fired; and again in 2013, when the electrodes were used.
During the same period, he said, they resorted to their firearms seven times: twice in 2010; thrice in 2012; and twice more in 2013.
Though tasers are not meant to kill, on rare occasions people have died after receiving a 50,000 volt shock from the devices. Most notably, in 2011, Royal Canadian Mounted Police apologized for the highly publicized death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport, whom its officers had repeatedly tasered two-and-a-half years earlier, in 2007.
According to federal Public Safety ministry figures, Quebec municipal and provincial police use fewer tasers than in most other Canadian provinces.
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