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Taser Toronto Tactical Squad to Test

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Toronto tactical squad
to test stun guns
Targets zapped with
probe delivering .

Electric stun guns have been
added to the arsenal of Toronto
police as the force searches for alternatives to using lethal force in
violent confrontations.
Tasers - stun guns that fire a
metal dart charged with a paralyzing electric current - are already credited with saving lives in
other parts of Canada.
The Ontario government yesterday approved a four-month pilot
project with the Taser used exclusively by the Toronto force's tactical unit.
"This is going to save lives; I
know for a fact it has in Victoria
and it has in Edmonton," said
Toronto police Sergeant Doug
Walker, who heads the tactical
wtit's training section.
There are field studies underway by city police in Edmonton
and Ottawa and in six RCMP detachments and two special units
The Victoria City Police Department has already included the
devices in their "less-lethal" inventory (pepper spray, tear gas,
bean-bag guns), with the blessing
of both provincial politicians and
civil libertarians.
The Taser works by firing a metal probe propelled by wires from
distances of up to 6.5 metres that
breaks the skin and zaps the target with 50,000 volts of electricity, over-riding the person's neuromuscular system, making muscle
contractions impossible.
In the 20 years North American
law enforcement agencies have
used Tasers, no deaths have been
directly linked to the devices.
And, according to a recent medical study conducted by the University of Ottawa Heart Institute,
the electrical shock does not in-

terfere with heart rhythm or pace
There is also no medical evidence to date of any lasting effects. The shock lasts a matter of
seconds and recovery is ..rirtually
Police say the devices are invaluable in situations where officers
are confronted by violent suspects who are mentally disturbed
or in a drug induced rage.
The limitations are that they can
only be used up to certain distances and the dart may not always pierce heavy coats or cloth•
Environmental factors may also
playa role. The locations of the
RCMP field study are deliberate
in that the officers are seeing if
the stun guns work in freezingcold temperatures (High Level,
Alta.) and rainy, humid climates
(Surrey, B.C.).
The results of both the RCMP
Ottawa, and Edmonton police
studies are expected in January.
Yesterday, the media were given
a live demonstration of the effects
of Tasers at the Emergency Task
Force barracks in Toronto, where
the squad's commander, Superintendent Wayne Oldham, volunteered to be stunned.
With a probe already attached
to his chest, Supt. Oldham
charged an officer with a rubber
knife, simulating a violent confrontation.
After being zapped the six-foot
tall, 220-pound man cried out in
pain and crumpled to the ground.
"It was painful ... electric pulses
going through your whole body. I
just fell down, I couldn't take another half a step," Supt. Oldham
said immediately afterwards, his
face red and his brow wet with
"I didu't thiuk it would be that
Patti Whitten, a tactical paramedic, also allowed herself to be
zapped and after collapsing in a
heap, gasping, described the feeling as like being "hit with a
National Post



Toronto Police demonstrate a TASER gun yesterday, which emplo)'s an clectric..t.I current to the body.