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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bang Bang You're dead 

Well, the RCMP taser report from June is finally out (another Friday afternoon document dump). My question is, why did it take the Access to Information Act to get the RCMP to release such a mildly-worded, even weasel-worded report?
Basically, the Globe story indicates that report appears to assign the blame for 20 deaths to "problems in the RCMP policy development process" -- rather than to police officers and a police culture which still sees tasers as a quick and easy way to control and punish civilians:
. . . the Mounties did not perform “due diligence” when they approved tasers for use earlier this decade . . .
“Many of the resulting problems in the RCMP policy-development process might have been avoided” had the force sought out impartial researchers to conduct studies “that could detect and take into account potential police and manufacturer biases,”. . .
Yeah, and I'm sure the RCMP would have listened to all those non-existent impartial researchers and their hypothetical studies, so actually this mess is all the researchers' fault, those bastards!
The time may have come when Canadian police services and their governing authorities “need to exercise their own final say in matters appropriate to training and usage.”
The report . . . suggests more attention be paid to factors that may affect risk of harm, including the subject's body weight, pregnancy, medical devices such as pacemakers, psychosis, ingestion of drugs and prolonged acute stress and exhaustion.
The Globe story indicates only one place where the report apparently took a real stand:
The report slams use of the term “excited delirium,” which is used by police officers to describe combative, resistant suspects. It says the supposed condition is not a recognized medical diagnosis, and is merely an excuse to justify firing the 50,000-volt charge.
But in the end, it appears the report just wimped out:
The report urges the federal government to set national standards for taser use by all police forces across the country.
Yeah, I'm sure Stockwell Day got right on this -- he's had the report since June, I guess, so where are those standards?
There is, however, one enduring image that this news story about the report provides:
In some cases, RCMP officers don't have access to tasers loaded with simulation cartridges, meaning members must resort to scenarios in which one yells “bang, bang” and another feigns being hit, the report says.
So RCMP officers were shouting "bang, bang" at each other?
Did any of them shout "bang, bang, you're dead"?

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