New Zealand police to trial tasers from Friday

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Yesterday New Zealand Police officers were showcasing their new tasers, model X26, and at the same time, trialling them on their own officers. This Friday 180 police officers, between Auckland and Wellington, will start trialling them for 12 months.

Policeman, Constable Mike Smith, who had the new taser trialled on him said, "My whole body was completely incapacitated from my feet to my head. My legs felt like concrete. I wouldn't do it again."

The police will not carry the tasers with them everywhere but only to call outs where they can expect violent encounters.

The tasers will replace pepper spray, as it is more effective and the offender is able to recover quicker. Only the armed offenders squad carry guns.

The particular model the police will use is the X26 model. This model delivers 50,000 volts of electricity but counters this high voltage with a very low amperage of .0036 amps, police say that this is safe. The taser works by firing two metal spurs at the target and transmits a charge of five seconds which paralyses the victim long enough to get the offender in handcuffs. The taser has a range of six metres, and is able to penetrate through both skin and clothes.

The New Zealand Green Party and civil rights lawyers are protesting against the use of tasers, saying that "It risks lives and could be misused."

The superintendent, John Rivers, said that a report that had been commissioned after Steve Wallace was fatally shot in 2001 said that tasers were "A less lethal option."

John Rivers said Tuesday, "The use of tasers was in the interest of public safety. He said they give police more tactical options when dealing with violent offenders. Very [sic] person who is shot with a taser gun during the trial will receive an examination by a doctor afterwards. British research had found that of the 400 times police there had drawn the weapon at least 60 per cent have resulted with the police not firing the device."

Most injuries were not caused by the taser itself but by the falling to the ground that is caused by the taser, according to an independent medical research group run by Peter Robinson. "No coroner or medical officer has found a situation where the Taser was the cause of death," Robinson said.

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