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Stun guns set to be triggered in September

21 May 2006

Stun guns set to be triggered in September

Citizens of Auckland, Wellington, Counties Manakau and the North Shore-Waitakere-Rodney area have been chosen as test subjects for trials starting in September of potentially lethal stun guns, Green Party Police Spokesperson Keith Locke says.

"Residents of those regions should be concerned that their night out on the town could see them ending up on the wrong end of a 50,000 volt electrical charge from a taser stun gun, as the police try to find out if these weapons can be used safely.

"The overseas evidence, including a report by Amnesty International, is that there are serious inherent risks involved in taser use, and over 150 deaths have been wholly or partly attributed to them.

"The Police, I am informed by responses to written questions posed to Police Minister Annette King, have done no independent research into the safety risks that tasers pose, before they have sought to try them out on ordinary citizens. The trial context therefore puts pressure on the police to use these dangerous weapons to gather data for analysis," Mr Locke says.

"I am also worried, following the recent scandal over the misuse of pepper spray, that the taser will be used on the full range of 'violent offenders' although the Minister informs me that those carrying a weapon (other than a firearm) will be a particular target.

"Given that the Police have not demonstrated they can adhere to pepper spray guidelines, I am concerned when the Minister tells me that 'front line response staff' will be authorised to use tasers. This weapon won't be restricted to the more highly trained violent offenders squad.

"The cost of the entire 12 month trial, which includes special medical training for police to cope with the possible medical emergencies associated with taser use, will be only $143,000. This figure seems remarkably low, and raises the possibility that the weapons are being supplied below cost by the US manufacturers, with an eye to further sales and more widespread police use."

"In the US, tasers may well be a less violent option in a society where violent offenders, routinely, tend to be shot. In New Zealand, the taser trial should be cancelled, and the police required to justify their plans for such a serious escalation in their operational arsenal."

ENDS

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