Gatineau police armed with tasers
Gatineau police announced March 22 that several officers will be equipped with Conducted Energy Weapons (CEWs), or tasers. The department earmarked $53,400 to purchase the equipment and to train 20 officers and three monitors.
“Our officers are increasingly confronted by people suffering from mental health problems and excited delirium. The CEWs will fill a gap between firearms and intermediate weapons such as extendable batons and pepper spray. This tool will enhance the safety of our officers, the public, and the people with whom we have to intervene,” explained Chief Mario Harel.
He also specified that non-violent response remains the primary objective of police officers who focus on communication and negotiation in their interventions.
A 2008 study by the Ligue des droits et Libertés du Québec examined the growing use of tasers. “We still stand by those arguments,” an employee told the Bulletin.
The report states that officers “frequently use the taser to apprehend individuals who do not pose a threat of death or grievous bodily harm and against whom the use of lethal force would not be an option, such as restless people or those suffering from mental health disorders.”
The report adds that tasers have been linked to two Quebec deaths and claims that authorities are not transparent in reporting their use of tasers. The association wants a moratorium on their use and an independent study of their effects.
According to Mariane Leduc of Gatineau police, “the decision to deploy the CEWs was based on consultations and analyses by a working group in 2014 with experts in health and paramedic services, as well as in the use of force.”
Gatineau officers equipped with a CEW will take a three-day course at the École nationale de police du Québec (ENPQ). Officers must be re-certified annually.
Each use of a CEW requires an administrative follow-up. Rules are that anyone receiving an electric discharge must be taken to a hospital. Paramedics will use briefing sheets to describe the weapon, its voltage, and the technique used to remove the probes.
Since their adoption by the RCMP in 2001, tasers have been linked to the deaths of over two dozen Canadians. They are used by police in Montreal, Quebec City, Laval, Longueuil, Ottawa and Toronto.