AUSTRALIA – Injuries mount from Queensland police Taser use, report says (2011-04-28)

Published on April 28 2011 by admin

[[SUMMARY / COMMENTS: “TASER-related injuries have increased in Queensland and a high number of suspects are still being repeatedly shot almost a year after tougher controls were put on police using the 50,000 volt devices. But a Crime and Misconduct Commission report found no evidence of widespread misuse of the stun guns. The report, released today, comes as Queensland police confirmed they are moving to almost double their taser armoury after quietly lifting a freeze on the roll-out of the stun guns following the 2009 death of a man.
A coronial inquest is still being heard into the death of Antonio Galeano, 39, who was shot up to 28 times with a taser during a siege.”]]

The Australian, by Michael McKenna

TASER-related injuries have increased in Queensland and a high number of suspects are still being repeatedly shot almost a year after tougher controls were put on police using the 50,000 volt devices.

A Crime and Misconduct Commission report on Queensland Police taser use – following an overhaul of training and operational rules last year – has found that while there are still problems, there is no evidence of widespread misuse of the stun guns.

But the report found that despite mounting evidence that repeated and prolonged ‘deployment’ of the guns is medically dangerous, 40 per cent of people were shot more than once by police in the past 10 months.

The report, released today, comes as Queensland police confirmed they are moving to almost double their taser armoury after quietly lifting a freeze on the roll-out of the stun guns following the 2009 death of a man.

A coronial inquest is still being heard into the death of Antonio Galeano, 39, who was shot up to 28 times with a taser during a siege.

Police initially told the media he had been shot several times, but an investigation by The Australian revealed the data from the gun showed he had been tasered up to 28 times.

The CMC report also found the frequency of Taser use had decreased considerably since Mr Galeano’s death and the new policies.

Deputy Director, Research, Dr Rebecca Denning, says the CMC was required to evaluate the implementation and effects of 27 recommendations arising from a joint QPS-CMC review in 2009 following Mr Galeano’s death.

Dr Denning there is still need for improvement.

“Taser deployments since the introduction of the revised policy were generally more likely than before to involve a person suspected of having an underlying mental or physical health condition,” Dr Denning said.

“This is despite the revised policy highlighting the possible risks of Taser use against people in potentially at-risk groups.

“Additionally, we would like to see a further reduction in the number of people who are the targets of multiple or prolonged Taser discharges.”

The CMC report also raises concerns that over 20 per cent of Taser uses were targeted at Indigenous people.

“They are more likely to suffer from illnesses such as heart and lung disease placing them at greater risk of harm from Taser deployments.”

Recommendations include the possibility of seeking mandatory medical assessments whenever a Taser is deployed and ensuring police are properly informed of the health risk of Taser use against indigenous people.

More “grey area scenarios” should also be incorporated into officer training, to help their decision-making skills.

It can also be revealed that moves to trial alternative stun guns — including the emerging “Stinger” semi-automatic stun gun — were abandoned last year after a police trial.

Queensland police confirmed last night that the 1000 new tasers were expected to be delivered in several weeks.

A spokesman said officers were now better trained and had a stricter policy governing the use of the stun guns following a joint police-CMC review.

“This policy ensures a high level of scrutiny is applied to all deployments and review processes are established to address identified trends,” the spokesman said.

“The ratio of officers now trained in the use of a Taser compared to the number of weapons available has steadily increased due to the continued suspension of the weapon rollout.

“The QPS has recently placed an order to purchase further Tasers.

“This is to ensure all Taser-qualified officers are able to be equipped with the devices as any unavailability is considered to be an unacceptable risk to the community and Queensland police officers.”

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/injuries-mount-from-queensland-police-taser-use-report-says/story-e6frg6n6-1226046240654

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