Teaching tasteful Tasing is vital

Increasing the number of Tasers in Kingston Police Force’s stock is fundamentally a good decision, but only if it’s coupled with thorough training.

Police Chief Gilles Larochelle is advocating for the purchase of 21 new Tasers, which would bring the force’s total to 55. More personnel will be authorized to use the Tasers, though Larochelle said there would be a “controlled distribution” within the force.

Numerous fatal incidents involving Tasers have spurred controversy over their use. Despite this, Tasers are still a good intermediate option for police officers.

There’s a grey area in police work. Situations arise where someone poses a threat and needs to be restrained; however, it can be impossible for an officer to do so without putting him or herself in serious harm’s way. Tasers are invaluable in these cases, because unlike guns, they’re not designed to be lethal.

More important than the discussion of whether guns or Tasers are better is ensuring that officers are thoroughly trained. Tasers can’t be treated as a replacement to guns that officers can deploy more liberally, but as another last resort.

There’s a high prevalence of mental illness and drug usage in Kingston. Chief Larochelle said around 15 per cent of all received police calls are related to mental illness.

In volatile situations like these, an officer who hasn’t received sufficient training may be inclined to use their Taser, where the use of de-escalation techniques would have sufficed instead.

If Larochelle’s proposal is approved, it’s of the utmost importance that training in de-escalation techniques takes precedence to ensure Tasers aren’t used prematurely or improperly.

Journal Editorial Board

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