Western Leader : December 17th 2010
www.westernleader.co.nz Friday, December 17, 2010 Hopper Developments Ltd Phone now on 09 427 0090 or 0800 629 476 • 65 Tauranga Place, Orewa • www.maygroveorewa.co.nz View us on Trade Me Properties Apartments from $220,000 Want the ultimate lifestyle? Stand back: Constable Greg Thomsen of Henderson Police with one of the tasers provided to trained frontline officers this year. Photo: STEPHEN FORBES Police happy with tasers By STEPHEN FORBES TASERS are being hailed a success by west Auckland police officers who have fired them at people eight times this year. Waitemata Police operations manager Paul Marshall says the weapons were drawn from their holsters 50 times in 2010 but in most cases that was enough to calm a volatile situation. Incidents that in the past would have led to physical confrontation now often don't go that far because the offenders don't want to be tasered.'' He says the end result is less injuries to officers and offenders. The police commissioner approved the introduction of tasers in 2008 following a trial in 2006 and 2007 in areas including Waitakere. They were rolled out this year. The weapons fire two barbed electrodes attached to wires which deliver a 50,000 volt electrical charge. Inspector Marshall won't say how many tasers are being used in west Auckland but says feedback from officers is positive. He says tasers are also useful in self-harm cases, such as when a per- son is holding a knife to their own throat. There is some opposition to the use of tasers but Mr Marshall says their use is closely scrutinised. They are the most monitored and audited piece of police equipment I can remember. When someone is tasered they are given a medical examination and a record of that is kept by the Taser Medical Review Board.'' He says each taser has built-in audio and video recording, provid- ing a record of how and when it was used, how many times the trigger was pulled and for how long. The Auckland District Law Society released a report on the use of tasers titled Less Lethal? in 2006. It highlighted concerns about the use of the weapon by police and a lack of compliance with guidelines. It said tasers had the potential to cause death or serious harm to those they are used against and while fatalities were rare they shouldn't be overlooked. Auckland barrister Marie Dyhrberg, a spokeswoman for Cam- paign Against the Taser, says: We've never been opposed to the use of some sort of device that can be used to immobilise people. But what we've always been con- cerned about is the type of device and whether it is the safest one. The frustrating thing is getting access to the full reports on when they are deployed,'' Ms Dyhrberg says. So it's very difficult to say whether there are cases of abuse.'' Mr Marshall says the Indepen- dent Police Conduct Authority hasn't received any complaints about the use of tasers in Waita- kere. But there have been nine com- plaints about taser nationwide this year.
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