Tasers safe, po­lice say

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By EMMA WHITTAKER

Tasers are turn­ing out to be one of the safest op­tions for po­lice need­ing to use force.

Re­ports pub­lished last week out­lin­ing the use of the tac­ti­cal op­tions avail­able to of­fi­cers – hand­cuffs, pep­per spray, empty handed tac­tics, ba­tons, dogs, tasers and firearms – show tasers have one of the low­est in­jury rates.

The weapons were used in 255 sit­u­a­tions in the Auck­land City Dis­trict and dis­charged against 40 peo­ple since they were rolled out in 2010 un­til June 30 this year.

Four peo­ple were in­jured as a re­sult of be­ing tasered but none needed to be ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal.

Most peo­ple are in­jured when they fall to the ground af­ter be­ing tasered, na­tional man­ager of op­er­a­tions Su­per­in­ten­dent Barry Tay­lor says.

‘‘Typ­i­cal in­juries in­clude scrapes and abra­sions that you would nor­mally ex­pect from fall­ing to the ground.

‘‘Po­lice staff are how­ever trained to pro­vide the ap­pro­pri­ate med­i­cal as­sis­tance fol­low­ing any taser in­ci­dent,’’ Mr Tay­lor says

The weapons are proving their worth in de-es­ca­lat­ing sit­u­a­tions, he says.

Na­tion­ally, they are only used once out of ev­ery seven times they are pre­sented.

Eighty-seven peo­ple were bit­ten by po­lice dogs re­sult­ing in 80 in­juries dur­ing the same time.

But dog bites only hap- pen in around 10 per cent of cases where they are de­ployed, Mr Tay­lor says.

‘‘Po­lice strive to en­sure the least pos­si­ble amount of force is used in re­solv­ing any sit­u­a­tion but, as with any use of force, the level and na­ture of our re­sponse is al­ways de­ter­mined by the be­hav­iour of the per­son and the cir­cum­stances at the time.

‘‘Use of dogs re­mains an im­por­tant tac­ti­cal op­tion for po­lice in help­ing to track of­fend­ers and re­solve crime in sit­u­a­tions where other op­tions may not be as ef­fec­tive,’’ Mr Tay­lor says.

Empty-handed tac­tics, like push­ing some­one way or phys­i­cal force with­out a weapon, were most the com­monly used op­tions, along with hand­cuffs and pep­per spray.

Photo: SVEN HERSEL­MAN

Safe op­tion: Re­ports is­sued by po­lice show tasers aren’t as dan­ger­ous as some feared they would be when they were rolled out in 2010.

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