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Saskatchewan municipal police to carry tasers

Vancouver police use a stun gun to subdue a man in 2011.

Florian Schaefer/The Globe and Mail

Saskatchewan is expanding the use of stun guns, allowing every municipal police officer across the province to carry them.

The Saskatchewan Police Commission said Monday it knows tasers are potentially dangerous, but they are also effective in the right circumstances.

"The approval and the policy for use includes strict controls, training standards and accountability requirements, including a post-use review each time a taser is deployed," commission chairman Paul Korpan said.

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"The commission's decision only authorizes the use of tasers in situations where there is imminent and high risk of bodily harm to officers or the public and where other use of force options would be ineffective or inappropriate."

Previously, only police tactical team members could carry the weapons in Saskatchewan. RCMP officers have been allowed to carry them because they are not governed by the Saskatchewan Police Commission.

Saskatchewan Federation of Police Officers president Evan Bray said every situation is different and it will be up to officers to determine where the line is between reaching for a taser or a gun.

"If you've got someone who's holding a metal pipe versus someone that's holding a shotgun, that might articulate a different decision-making process for the officer," Mr. Bray said.

"Not to get too deep into our firearm training, but the distance between us and the individual [and] what is behind the individual, is very much a consideration when you're thinking about using a firearm."

Officials said it will be months before tasers are rolled out across the province, and everyone who is tasered will get medical attention.

A review started in 2007 considered national guidelines for taser use that were agreed to by federal, provincial and territorial justice ministers in 2010, as well as recommendations made at a public inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski, who died in October, 2007, after four RCMP officers repeatedly stunned him with tasers at Vancouver's airport.

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