Canadian taser experience a warning for New Zealand

Green Party MP Keith Locke says the Canadian experience – where police have frequently used tasers well beyond their mandate – should make us wary about introducing tasers here.

Mr Locke is commenting on a report by the head of the Canadian police complaints body, Paul Kennedy, that Tasers were being used against people who were ‘clearly noncombative, and could not even be classified as resistant’.

“There are several incidents during the year-long New Zealand trial, where apparently ‘non-combative’ people were either tasered or laser painted – that is had the stun gun pointed at them,” Mr Locke says.

“The phenomenon of ‘usage creep’, noted by the Canadian police watchdog, appears to be also present in New Zealand.

“We will be able to judge this better when the New Zealand Police issue fuller incident reports from the taser trial, as requested recently by the Ombudsman.

“The Greens also note the incidents where pepper-spray has been inappropriately used, and the current trial of four police officers for wrongful use.

“Altogether this should make use wary about introducing a new 50,000 volt weapon, which has killed many people overseas, into the police armoury.”