Police loosening criteria for taser use

Green Party MP Keith Locke is concerned that Police appear to have loosened the criteria for taser use, so that it is now being used simply to make an arrest easier.

“The Police are now going beyond their taser trial mandate, which was to use it only when there was a threat of physical injury,” Mr Locke, the Party’s Police spokesperson says.

“This last week, in two separate incidents, the taser was used just to make it easier for the Police to put handcuffs on the alleged offender.

“There was no apparent danger of injury to a three-person Police unit when they confronted an unarmed woman in a Titirangi bathroom on Tuesday — unless one counts the possible bruising inherent in any forceful arrest situation.

“From the video footage of the second incident, in Henderson on Thursday, the four Police surrounding the unarmed man, who was lying on the ground, did not appear to be in any immediate danger.

“This is the latest of several incidents where the taser has been brought out to enforce compliance with a Police request, rather than prevent injury.

“When the Police gave a briefing to the Law and Order Select Committee on February 28, I pressed them on three incidents, on December 1, 9 and 11, where the taser had been either presented or used to make an offender abide by a Police instruction. On December 11 Police reported that a man was lying on the ground and officers were unable to apply handcuffs. The subject was tasered twice to the buttock using a drive stun for approximately 2 to 3 seconds. There were also two troubling cases where people were ‘painted’ with the taser, one on December 9 when a man was fleeing over a fence and one on December 1 when the Police reported a man ‘struggled to his feet’ after being pepper sprayed still refusing to ‘surrender’. There was no evidence of danger to Police in any of these incidents.

“Such incidents are undermining the credibility of the Police’s year long trial of the Taser. Also, the more widely this 50,000 volt weapon is used, the greater the chance it will seriously injure someone, or kill them, as we have seen overseas,” Mr Locke says.