Greens criticise rising use of taser ‘painting’

Green Party Police Spokesperson Keith Locke has backed the Auckland District Law Society’s wide-ranging concerns about the lack of police compliance to guidelines governing the use of tasers.

“There seem, for instance, to be inadequate guidelines around ‘taser painting’, which has been the most common use of the weapon to date,” said Mr Locke, the party’s police spokesperson.

“Tasers are supposed to be used only as a last resort, when someone threatening physical injury cannot be dealt with by less forceful means.

“Yet we now see taser painting is also being used to induce compliance in arrest situations, even when the target is unarmed and when traditional means of restraint could be used. For example, on December 1 a group of Police taser painted an unarmed man in Orewa who was getting up of the ground after being pepper-sprayed.

“The Police reporting on the taser trial has been too rosy. For example, its official website report on an incident on October 1 neglected to mention the multiple tasering of an offender, a particularly dangerous practice. Many of the deaths following taser use overseas have occurred when a person has been tasered more than once.

“The Police should suspend the taser trial while the problems identified by the Law Society are sorted out.

“There should also be a more independent monitoring of the trial, and an independent body should be entrusted with making the final decision on whether the weapon should be introduced long term. The public can have no faith in an evaluation and approval process carried out by the same organisation that would be using the weapon. The Police hierarchy is too keen on tasers to be trusted, on its own to objectively evaluate the trial,” said Mr Locke.