Have Your Say on TPS Taser Use

taser-by-Matthew Coutts

Paralegals with something to say about Toronto Police Service plans to arm officers with Tasers can take part in a meeting Oct. 1. Toronto police are asking for the public’s input.

The meeting is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at Toronto City Hall. The subject is expanding the use of the weapons. Deputations will be limited to five minutes.

Members of grassroots groups and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association are to speak against police use of Tasers. They also plan to hold a news conference before the meeting outside Toronto City Hall.

In August, the province announced wider use of Tasers, saying front-line officers could carry them. The provincial government announcement came one month after the police shooting death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim on a Toronto streetcar. He was stunned with a Taser after being shot multiple times.

Changes to the Ministry of Community Safety’s guidelines on tasers mean that all front-line officers, not just supervisors and tactical teams, may carry the devices.

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair supports expanding the use of tasers, saying that the conducted energy weapons have the potential to save lives in situations where force is necessary, but a gun could lead to tragedy. During a Toronto Police Services Board consultation, speakers raised options such as expanding the service’s Mobile Crisis Intervention Teams, specially trained for mental-health cases, or purchasing tasers with low voltages.

Peter Rosenthal, a Toronto lawyer who has represented victims of police shootings and their families, told the Globe & Mail that “There’s no really good use” for tasers.

Last month, an 80-year-old woman with dementia suffered a fractured hip after Peel police stunned her with a Taser.

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