The Toronto Police Services Board held a public meeting today on whether to arm its frontline officers with stun guns.
More than 100 people signed up to address the board during the public consultations, which were scheduled to end at 7 p.m.
The Ontario government announced in August it would allow officers to carry stuns guns, which are commonly known as Tasers. Previously only supervisors and special tactical offers were allowed to carry them.
The province’s decision came weeks after Sammy Yatim died in a police shooting aboard a Toronto streetcar.
Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, says that expanding the use of Tasers could help reduce injuries among police and the public.
"It gives our officers another use-of-force option, another tool in their belt …when they're dealing with confrontations and other situations that is less than lethal," he told CBC News. "So we think it's a great idea."
Dozens of people gathered outside Toronto City Hall to protest the expanded use of Tasers.
"Tasers don't have very many appropriate uses, and they will be inappropriately used and will cause many injuries," said lawyer Peter Rosenthal.
Alok Mukherjee, head of the police services board, says there has not been a single death or serious injury due to police use of Tasers in this city in recent years, which he says is largely due to Toronto's strict rules around how the weapons can be used.
“I worry that some people may use the Taser as a short cut to good policing,” said Mukerjee.
“I would have to receive a great deal of reassurance that the protocol, the rules, the training were being enforced and that people were being held accountable."
The police board is set to vote on Taser use later this year.