Monday, 8 March 2010 - 3:56pm |

Tasers arrive in Southern

2 min read

Southern District Police will now have another tactical option in their toolbox as the roll-out of Tasers across the country comes to Southland and Otago.

Southern District has been allocated 72 Taser units across the district.

Across the police areas, 19 Tasers have been allocated to Otago Rural, 26 to Southland and 24 to Dunedin. The allocation was worked out on a formula based on geography, staff numbers, and a review of tactical options reports submitted by staff.

In total, 300 rural and urban `first response' staff in Southern will be trained as Taser operators over the next two months, with frontline staff training beginning on 22 March.

As soon as they complete their training, officers will be eligible to use a Taser. All training should be completed by 30 June 2010.

Each Taser will be issued to trained staff as they come on duty and locked in a special safe in patrol cars. Tasers will not be routinely carried by officers while on duty.

"Only front-line responder staff will be trained initially, and then there will be subsequent training to cover new front-line response staff," says Inspector Lane Todd, Southern District Operations Manager. In addition, staff trained to use Tasers must undergo annual training and certification.

Inspector Todd says the deployment of the Taser units will be controlled through national guidelines covering the use, security, storage and procedures. Tasers will be available for trained operators to use in situations of arrest, self-defence (or defence of others), prevention of escape and to deter vicious animals.

"Each Taser has a video and audio recorder on board to record events each time it is used. This information will be retained for evidential purposes as well as training, and to ensure the taser has been used in accordance with standard procedures and appropriately. This also provides additional public assurance, says Inspector Todd.

"When someone is tasered they are monitored by Police until they are examined by a Police doctor. In cases when urgent medical attention is required, the person will be taken to the nearest Accident and Emergency Department."

An independent medical advisory group will monitor all medical reports from the use of Taser.

Tasers will not replace pepper spray or firearms but each will be deployed as an officer deems appropriate to a situation.

During 2009, Police reintroduced tasers in the Auckland and Wellington Police districts. Over the year Tasers were deployed on 132 occasions and, in 92% of these occasions, the incident was de-escalated without the need to discharge the taser. In total, there were only 10 taser discharges for the entire year.

Across the country, 3500 police staff around the country have been or will be trained to use a Taser.