Are Tasers Giving Police More Power?

Giving a Taser to every Canadian police officer is going to drastically change the police force.

The Ottawa Police Services Board has voted in favour of a plan to put Tasers into the hands of 800 officers by 2020. The plan comprises of three phases.

The first phase calls for 400 tasers, each costing about $2,800.The second phase will have another 400 weapons in 2019.

In total, the first two phases will cost about $2.25 million, which the city will pay in annual payments over the next five years.

A third phase will have another 250 Tasers purchased in 2020. By 2021, the force plans to buy another 30 weapons for new recruits. In total, the police service will have 1,080 new Tasers, and they will become a part of every officer’s standard kit.

At first glance, the biggest questions is where the funding is coming from. Will this massive initiative take money away from other initiatives we might need?

While this topic has been circling around for some time now, it’s important for everyone to understand what this will actually mean.

Many are saying that adding more weapons is not the answer and that police officers should be taught de-escalation and crisis training instead. Others hope that tasers might help maintain public and officer safety, and assist with the ultimate goal of zero harm/zero death.

We’ve seen the same story play out too many times: innocent citizens killed by police officers who abuse their power or don’t bother to abate a growing conflict before using violence.

We can look at the death of Sammy Yatim in 2013. Yatim was shot nine times by a Toronto police officer and later died of his injuries. The officer was not found guilty of second degree murder but instead was found guilty of attempted murder. Although he was going to serve six years in prison, the next day, he was granted bail pending an appeal of the court's sentence. The only punishment the officer got was suspension without pay.

The best would be there is no violence at all or all people who have guns guard their possessions well, which is extremely worthwhile, so that their guns do not harm anyone. 

By now we know the damage that Canadian police officers can cause, and our feeble justice system is an unreliable way of keeping them in check. If they can kill with a gun and get away with it, then how much damage can they cause with Tasers and still get away with it?

Tasers can sometimes cause tremendous physical damage. Even if a person is completely healthy and does not do drugs, they can get a heart attack if they are struck by a Taser. Those with elevated heart rates, often associated with drug use, are at an even greater risk. If they are not treated immediately, the encounter can be fatal.

The implementation of Tasers is meant to lower or even eliminate the amount of police-related fatalities in Canada. But replacing guns with such dangerous weapons hardly seems worth the money and effort. How much difference will we really see in our law enforcement if violence is administered with electricity rather than bullets?