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The Province (Canada)

Attorney-General Prepared to Limit Taser Use by Police

by
John Bermingham

VICTORIA - B.C. Attorney-General Wally Oppal is prepared to limit or even ban the use of Tasers if a new commission into their use recommends it.

Oppal announced a pair of probes yesterday to look into the controversial weapons, headed by retired judge Thomas Braidwood.

One will look at Taser use by B.C. law enforcement officers, the other at the death of Robert Dziekanski, who died at Vancouver airport last October after being Tasered by the RCMP.

Oppal said it's premature to consider a ban, but if Braidwood recommended it, he would give it thought.

"We would be prepared to look at anything and everything," he said.

"A lot of police forces across North America are having second thoughts about the use of Tasers, given some of the medical opinions out there," he said.

"We want a full and comprehensive opinion as to what our police should be doing in this province."

Oppal said he expects the RCMP to co-operate with the inquiry.

Oppal said the evidence has been building around Taser use in B.C. for some years.

He ruled out a moratorium saying there's evidence in favour of the Taser's continued use.

"The police keep telling us it saves lives," said Oppal. "We want the police to have all the tools at their disposal that they think are useful."

Meanwhile, NDP justice critic Leonard Krog called for a moratorium on the use of the weapons.

"I think the government has to look at a temporary ban," said Krog, citing public safety.

Braidwood will report back by the end of June.

A coroner's inquest into Dziekanski's death is set for May 5 to 16.

jbermingham@png.canwest.com

© 2008 The Province

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