PEI

New camera-equipped Tasers will give Charlottetown police another option, officer says

Charlottetown police are getting eight new Tasers they say will provide another option when confrontations arise.

Constable says subjects are warned before officer fires Taser

New Tasers will be equipped with cameras so police can review incident footage every time one is deployed. This Taser is an older model with no camera. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette/Canadian Press)

Charlottetown police are getting eight new Tasers they say will provide another option when confrontations arise.

Const. Ron Kennedy said the Tasers will prevent officers from having to go "hands-on" with a subject, or having to draw their gun.

"Anytime you bring in a tool that assists the officers but also helps the general public, we're always glad to have that. I mean, it's another tool on our belt," he said. "It's a less-than-lethal option and anytime we have that it's always a positive thing for us and for everybody in general."

Tasers are hand-held weapons that deliver a jolt of electricity via a pair of wires propelled by compressed air. The jolt stuns the targeted person by causing their muscles to contract uncontrollably. They are immobilized and fall to the ground — regardless of pain tolerance or mental focus.

There are times being a police officer you have to put hands on people and people become physical. It's not an option that we always want to resort to.— Const. Ron Kennedy

Officers always warn subjects before they fire a Taser, Kennedy said, unless the officer is being attacked and must react quickly.

"If you're not obeying my commands or you're not obeying the commands that are being given to you, you're probably going to get several chances to stop your behaviour if the situation allows," he said.

"There are times being a police officer you have to put hands on people and people become physical. It's not an option that we always want to resort to or always go to, so having something like a Taser or more Tasers is a great option."

The new Tasers bring the total supply for the Charlottetown department to 10, which means every officer on patrol will have access to one, Kennedy said.

Sometimes a 'discrepancy'

The new Tasers will also be equipped with automatic cameras that will record a video when deployed.

"That is a very useful option to have because sometimes there is a discrepancy between what was said between the officer and what was said between the subject."

In the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, there have been calls to defund police across North America, including on P.E.I. Is buying the Tasers a way to prevent such confrontations and tragic outcomes from happening again? 

"There certainly has to be a greater discussion at a bunch of different levels involving a large number of groups to determine how that's going to play out," Kennedy said.

The new Tasers will arrive at the end of of June and officers will receive training in using them, he said. 

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Angela Walker

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