N.B. officers require yearly certification to use Tasers
Police encouraged to call for medical help when arresting the mentally distressed
New Brunswick law enforcement officials using Tasers and any other type of stun gun will now require annual certification, Public Safety Minister John Foran announced Wednesday.
The annual certification replaces the three-year certification process that previously existed in the province. It was announced after the public safety department concluded its review on the use of stun gun devices.
No other new restrictions will be placed on the use of the stun guns, Foran said, but the report recommends that police call medical help to deal with any individual who appears to be under mental distress.
"Every situation is different but if your [police officer] is on the scene and they see what some people would call excited delirium or any other medical or emotional or psychological concerns, they may want to ask for a medical responder right away before the situation escalates," Foran said at a news conference in Fredericton.
The entire policy will not be released until the province's police chiefs have had a chance to review it, Foran said.
An eyewitness video of RCMP officers shocking Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, who subsequently died, at the Vancouver airport in October sparked international debate about the use of the weapon.
In November, Howard Hyde, 45, died in a Dartmouth, N.S., jail 30 hours after being jolted by a Taser.
Foran, however, has previously said the deaths did not prompt the provincial review.
The new policy will apply to Saint John, Fredericton, Rothesay and Edmundston municipal police forces that use the devices. It will not apply to RCMP officers in the province.
Fredericton police Chief Barry MacKnight said six people in the city were shocked in 2007 after resisting arrest and in nine other incidents, police officers threatened the use of a Taser.
"When you look at the science, they are a very effective device in resolving situations where people are actively resisting and combative and even in some case when they're posing a lethal force threat," MacKnight told CBC News.
"In some cases [Tasers] provide officers an option that is less than lethal."