The Saskatchewan Police Commission decided, after about five years of study and research, that Conducted Energy Weapons (CEWs), or Tasers as they are known by most people, will be permitted for use by police forces in the province, including the Weyburn Police Service.
This doesn’t mean that next weekend we will see a constable Taser a particularly violent and drunken individual at a violent incident like a domestic dispute or a fight at a bar. The Weyburn police will have a number of factors to look at, including the amount of training needed, and the cost, and whether the police budget can handle the expense now or not.
As Police Chief Marlo Pritchard said, even if he had the money in hand right now for it, there would be a space of several months before the CEWs would be seen on Weyburn streets, as extensive training would be required first, and no city officers are currently trained in the weapon’s use.
That aside, the question before the city police, and before every municipal police force, is whether there is a place for the use of Tasers in the line of duty in this community? The police chief deems the Taser as a “useful tool” that can come in handy.
Presumably, the use of it would be limited to certain regulations and rules for their use, just as use of deadly force with a firearm is also strictly laid out and observed by every sworn officer of the law.
Some people have reservations about using this weapon, after some incidents where people have died after its use, including most famously the death of a man in the Vancouver airport who was greatly distraught and violent. This was a singular incident where its use was highly questionable, but the incident was scrutinized, and police had a very close look at how things were handled.
Among the conditions that the provincial police commission will allow the use of Tasers is that one officer uses it, with a single shot only, so it’s enough to take down a person who needs restraining, but not enough to kill them. The key is, it’s a non-lethal tool the police can use in a violent incident; all too often the public hears of incidents where guns are drawn and violent persons are shot by the police, sometimes a person who has nothing to do with the incident. A Taser, correctly used, can be used to subdue a violent person without any innocent people getting hurt or shot, so it should be considered for use.