POLICE have already shocked five people with Tasers in the first fortnight of use of the controversial weapon, despite their assurances the stun guns would be a "less-than-lethal alternative" to police pistols.
In May, the Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, cited the case of Roni Levi, who was shot dead by police on Bondi Beach in 1997, as an example where a Taser would have saved a life.
Police have fired their pistols only a handful of times in the past year but if the use of stun guns continues at the same levels as in the past 14 days, 130 people in NSW will have been shocked by the end of the year-long trial.
The new figures, released by the police yesterday, also come as critics express their concern that a new culture of police "shock jocks" could be encouraged by the weapon.
One of the state's most senior criminologists, Chris Cunneen, said that as use of the weapons increases police could come to rely on them instead of negotiation. "The potential problem is that it becomes more widespread in its use and it's at that point when those negotiation skills are not relied upon, and the technology is relied upon instead," Professor Cunneen said.
A newspaper in Arizona found that in 2004, when Tasers were issued to all patrol officers in Phoenix, there was a 22 per cent rise in incidents in which police used force.
In the past fortnight, the weapons were fired once from a distance and four times by pushing the gun into the target, called "drive-stunning". It was also pulled from its holster a further 16 times but not discharged.
Police hailed the first fortnight of their year-long general duties trial, saying it showed the stun gun to be an "extremely effective deterrent" and may have already prevented several people from committing self-harm.
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"The camera-fitted Tasers will protect officers from spurious claims that a weapon was fired inappropriately, while also providing even greater accountability for police.
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