Minister ducks her taser critics

Police Minister Annette King’s refusal to meet a delegation from the Campaign Against The Taser is a failure of government accountability, Green Party Police Spokesperson Keith Locke says.

The delegation was seeking to meet Ms King to discuss community concerns at plans to introduce the taser stun gun into New Zealand policing in September

“Ms King’s approach stands in stark contrast to the approach taken by the Bush administration, which has just launched a federal investigation into the 184 deaths that have occurred following police use of stun weapons. Clearly, the White House is not taking Ms King’s approach. The Bush administration is not treating the taser as simply an internal operational matter for the police.

“It is disturbing to see the Bush administration being more accountable about these weapons than the New Zealand Government,” Mr Locke says.

“One would have thought Ms King would have welcomed the chance to enter a dialogue with critics of the taser proposal, who include several prominent lawyers – and embraced this opportunity to dispel community concerns about the weapon.

“Those concerns are genuine. People feel concerned about the taser because it is a potentially lethal addition to the armoury of our police. New Zealanders have seen the police difficulty in complying with their own guidelines on the use of pepper spray.

“Annette King really has to front up to her critics, and engage with the genuine concerns people have about how violence is increasingly defining their relationship with their own police force.”