3.19.2011

Taser Law

--Australia, Brian Steels

Thanks to Tonia at Giz Watson's office (MLC) I was able to take the following comments from the updated Taser policy, obtained this week in answer to a question on notice Giz submitted on 6 December 2010 during the Parliamentary recess (the 15 February 2011 date is when Parliament resumed). This is public information from Parliament’s website and can be circulated as you wish.

Among the questions that it all raises is the one of accountability. Are we to believe that fairness and justice will always prevail when 'accountability' is to senior police officers, and no great oversight by independent review?

WA has for too long been a safe house for poor policing practices. It began during the occupation of land in support of settlers, and continues today against marginalised groups and individuals.

The wording within the Taser policy is weak and will fail to make an officer concerned about his or her actions or future directions within the service. This policy does little to increase accountability towards external audit. It encourages the question "Accountable to whom?"

Parts of the Taser policy are provided here for you to note:


Any Use of Force must be reasonable, appropriate and proportionate to the circumstances and members will be accountable for such force.

Members should be aware that any prolonged application of the Taser involving either extended or multiple cycles will be subjected to a greater degree of scrutiny.

Where the subject is standing they may fall to the ground in an uncontrolled manner potentially causing significant forceful contact of the head with a hard surface.

While members will be accountable for any use of force, where one or more of the below risks is evident, use of the Taser in such circumstances will be subjected to a greater degree of scrutiny. These risks include, but are not limited to
· Subjects with known/suspected or claimed heart conditions · Subjects displaying signs of excited delirium · Subjects with known/suspected or claimed mental health issues · Subjects who do not recover within a reasonable time · Women who are known/suspected or claimed pregnant · Elderly or infirm subjects · Children · Any use of the Taser in the near vicinity of explosive materials, flammable liquids or gases · Subjects situated in, or adjacent to, water due to the risk of drowning · Subjects situated in elevated positions due to the risk of falling from a height · Subjects operating a vehicle or machinery · Where a subject is handcuffed · Probes deployed into the chest, face and/or genital region of the subject
Probes deployed into the back of a subject who is running away from members

When the use of Taser results in an arrest, members must ensure that a formal caution is given immediately and repeated when the subject has had time to sufficiently recover from the effects of the Taser and is capable of understanding.
Note: Any admission made while under the effect of the Taser may result in the confessional evidence being excluded by any judicial proceedings.

Should a member use a Taser against a subject who
Is known/suspected or claimed to have a heart condition Is displaying signs of positional asphyxia Is displaying signs of excited delirium Has subsequently fallen to the ground in an uncontrolled manner and sustained
significant forceful contact of the head with a hard surface
the member must treat the incident as a MEDICAL EMERGENCY and shall require an ambulance to attend as a matter of urgency (priority one).
Should a member use a Taser against a subject who is known, suspected or claims to be Pregnant
Suffering mental health issues the member must seek medical care for the subject.

Evidentiary Download
An evidentiary download must be conducted within 72 hours of a Taser being used in the ‘probe deployment’ or ‘drive stun’ mode and the ‘Use of Force’ report for that use being submitted. Information from the TDPD will be entered on the ‘Use of Force’ report by Operational Safety & Tactics Training Unit, Use of Force Coordinator.
The purpose of this download is to ensure
Accurate information is immediately available to clarify detail in the ‘Use of Force’ report as submitted by a member
Provide Business Information and Statistics and Risk Assessment Unit with quantitative data on Taser use by WAPOL

FR-1.6.14 REQUEST FOR INFORMATION RELATING TO USE OF TASER Refer:
AD-31 Freedom of Information
It is the policy of the Western Australia Police to make information relative to Taser use and associated data available as requested within the spirit of, and subject to Freedom of Information legislative protocols.
Access Applications received at Freedom of Information Unit regarding Taser, will be directed to the Officer in Charge, Operational Safety and Tactics Training Unit at the earliest opportunity, who will determine release strategies relevant to such information in consultation with Inspector in Charge, Operational Skills Faculty, Business Information and Statistics, Risk Assessment Unit and Freedom of Information Unit.

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