WHILE police must act responsibly in the execution of their duties, it is important they have the tools they need to defuse volatile situations and protect themselves and the public.
Tasers were introduced to provide police with another option, other than using their firearms.
The inclusion of tasers in issued police equipment followed the shooting deaths of a number of mentally ill people who were armed and had become a threat to public safety.
Their issue followed a public outcry that police were using firepower to disarm people whose only crime was ill-health.
They were also issued to deal with violent and aggressive people who have no regard for police authority.
Sadly, since their introduction, there has been a number of deaths that have been attributed to their use.
The latest was the death in Sydney of Brazilian student Roberto Laudisio Curti, who was tasered up to 14 times and heavily restrained by police.
The coroner’s heavy criticism of the conduct of police following a coronial inquiry into Mr Curti’s death has prompted some interest groups to call for tasers to be taken away from police.
Indigenous Social Justice Association president Ray Jackson said last week tasers should be removed from frontline service, because they were being “misused” or being used to make up for “lazy policing”.
Sadly, tasers will injure and possibly kill some people, but eliminating their use will result in more deaths and injury.
The issue is that there needs to be better education of police in their use and their potential danger, and tighter control on when they are used.
Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione has undertaken a review into the use of tasers.
Premier Barry O’Farrell has backed their continued use, because they are less dangerous than guns.
The review will need to investigate the level of education required in their use and the resulting consequences.
Tighter controls will stamp out their use by any “cowboy” elements within the police force.
Getting the right guidelines in place should improve the downside in their use.