London’s top cop said he fully supports the Ontario government’s announcement Tuesday allowing all police officers to carry and use stun guns.
Ontario Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur said current rules that limit the use of stun guns, or Tasers as they are commonly known, will be reworked so that each police force can decide which officers should carry them.
Currently, they’re limited to frontline supervisors and emergency-response units.
Chief Brad Duncan said he welcomes the news because he believes lives will be saved.
“I support it, and I’m joined by a number of chiefs in the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police,” he said. “We’ve been wrestling with this issue for some time, and we certainly see the advantage for more strategic deployment to frontline officers.”
Duncan said there are many instances in which a stun gun would be beneficial for the officer and the suspect.
“Their availability would be more useful on a number of fronts when we’re dealing with individuals exhibiting violent behaviour and — I must emphasize —who are not de-escalating that behaviour,” he said. “Ultimately, as police officers, we face situations where that clearly will not work and we have to resort to the use of force.”
It’s estimated that the average stun gun costs about $1,000. Duncan said the benefits far outweigh the costs.
“Two U.S. studies over the past five years have demonstrated a 70 per cent reduction in injury to civilians and police when they’re deployed. I think that’s important,” he said.
Meilleur’s announcement came one month after 18-year-old Sami Yatim was shot and killed by Toronto police. The minister said that case didn’t influence her decision.