ZAP!: Taser company to sponsor police chiefs conference
Despite the fact that at least 20 people have died in Canada after being zapped by tasers, and the fact that the UN has called taser use torture, Canadian police continue to use the technology, even against non-violent offenders.
Today, the Canadian Press is reporting that Taser International, a leading producer of the stun-guns, will be sposoring an upcoming police chiefs conference in Montreal where "new research" into taser safety will be presented.
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police commissioned a review of conducted-energy weapons last fall after Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski died at Vancouver International Airport when he was hit with the device by RCMP. At least five other Canadians have since died after police jolted them with electric stun guns.
Steve Palmer, executive director of the Canadian Police Research Centre, said he will present an overview of the report at the conference this month in Montreal, but said the full review of the weapons commonly known as Tasers is not yet complete.[...]
Taser International is one of the platinum sponsors of the conference that runs Aug. 24-27. The corporation has sponsored similar events in Canada and around the world.
To Steven Tuttle, vice-president of Taser International, it's just business as usual. Others question the credibility of the conference.
"You have to be there. It is a major sales event. It is advertising," said Mr. Tuttle, who will be at the conference to answer questions about his company's products.
Mr. Tuttle said that, while the new Canadian research is important, he has DVDs that contain 130 studies that have found the devices to be safe.
"You want to be there to be a conduit for information because clearly we have controversial issues in Canada, and the last thing that we want to be is shy. We stand behind our technology."
Hilary Homes of Amnesty International Canada, which has called for a moratorium on stun guns, said having Taser as a sponsor and exhibitor sends a mixed message.
"It is very troubling," Ms. Homes said from Ottawa. "What we need now is an objective discussion and accountability, and this doesn't seem to be creating the proper context for what needs to be a very frank and open debate."
Officials with the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police were not available for comment.
It also looks like some new high-power toys will be on display as well.
Taser staff will be on hand to exhibit the company's trademark X26 model used by the RCMP and other Canadian police forces. Taser is not listed as an exhibitor under its own name, but under its Canadian distributor, M.D. Charlton Co. Ltd.
The company will also be promoting new products such as a wireless Taser round that is fired from a shotgun and has a range of 20 metres, he said. There will also be information on new products being developed, including a system called Shockwave that fires multiple Taser rounds from a distance of up to 100 metres that can incapacitate a number of people in an area.