Sunday, 18 May 2008

Officers to adopt lethal shock tactics


NSW POLICE will be issued with high-tech Taser stun guns to combat violent and volatile criminals and drug addicts.

After a two-year trial, the NSW Government is spending $1 million on 229 new Tasers to give officers in high-risk confrontations the option of using "less than lethal force".

The move - cautiously welcomed by the Police Association - comes 21 months after former police minister Carl Scully predicted a Taser for every one of the state's 15,200 officers.

It follows a successful trial of 50 of the weapons by the state's elite riot squad and Tactical Operations Unit.

It's almost certain to be followed by a widespread roll-out of the weapons, which are loved by the Police Association and loathed by civil libertarians.


The Tasers will be fitted with video cameras to record their use.

Police Minister David Campbell said Tasers would be issued to senior police within a couple of months to "ensure better protection for officers and to reduce avoidable deaths in high-risk situations".

"This is a less-than-lethal option, which can be used by police to subdue dangerous offenders and resolve volatile situations, making the streets safer for NSW families," Mr Campbell said.

"Police are on the frontline dealing with serious offenders every day and the NSW Government has a duty to provide them with the best protection available. The new-model Tasers are fitted with a special video system, which films when the Taser is used.

"The camera-fitted Tasers will protect officers from spurious claims that a weapon was fired inappropriately, while also providing even greater accountability for police.

"I am confident that the strategic roll-out and strict guidelines and training in Taser use will ensure that these weapons provide greater safety for police and the community."

Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said 2000 senior police officers would be trained in the safe use of the Taser.

"There has been rigorous assessment of this rollout driven by the NSW Police Safety Command, which conducted a risk review of the extended use of Tasers," he said.

The Police Association welcomed the Taser roll-out but said it did not go far enough.

President Bob Pritchard said every frontline officer needed one.

"I call on the Minister to commit to a far more ambitious roll-out of Tasers - one that gives all frontline officers access to them and training in their use," Mr Pritchard said. "We've campaigned on this issue for years and we're no strangers to the misleading and unhelpful fallacies put forward by Taser opponents.

"Tasers are about giving police a non-lethal option in the most dangerous situations - where human life is at stake.

"The fact too often forgotten in this debate is that Tasers save lives.

"As it stands, police can be faced with the choice of killing, or being killed by an armed assailant.

"Tasers would give police a vital third option."

USA: Amnesty International concerned at use of tasers in Florida Amnesty 2007

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