Tasers: The Rules of Engagement

May 22, 2008 :: Tom McKenzie, Jason Walper and Alex Hann
Moderated by Patti Johnsen

Ever since the hapless Polish immigrant, Robert Dziekanski, died at Vancouver International Airport last year after being zapped with Tasers by RCMP officers, a flood of outrage has swept across the country and around the world. Serious questions are now being asked about the use of this controversial weapon by those paid to keep us safe on our streets.

Our newspapers are full of reports about the use of Tasers in what would appear to be inappropriate circumstances: by transit cops in BC against passengers suspected of skipping their fare; by Toronto city police who zapped a suspected drug peddler after he had already been handcuffed and was lying face down on the floor. Alarmingly, the use of Tasers has been growing dramatically, according to a recent Canadian Press/CBC investigation.

Who says Tasers are safe? It would seem that most of the research behind this claim has been funded by the Taser manufacturers themselves. Under what circumstances should Tasers be used? Apparently, there is no uniformity in the rules and therefore the application varies. And just how effective is civilian oversight to ensure accountability that these potentially lethal weapons are not misused?

What are the rules of engagement in Lethbridge?

Speakers: Chief Tom McKenzie, Sgt. Jason Walper and Alex Hann

Tom McKenzie joined the Lethbridge Regional Police Service in 1976. Working his way through the ranks and experiencing nearly all aspects of law enforcement in Lethbridge, Tom was sworn in as Chief on January 1, 2007.

Jason Walper has been a member of the Lethbridge Regional Police Service for 11 years.
He was promoted to Sergeant in 2006 and is presently in charge of the police training unit. Sgt. Walper has been a Taser instructor for several years.

Alex Hann is a member of the Lethbridge Regional Police Commission, presently serving as its Public Complaints Director. He served as Mayor of Coaldale for three terms in the 1990’s. Now a resident of Lethbridge, he has just been appointed to the U of L Senate.

Moderator: Patti Johnsen

Date: Thursday, May 22, 2008
Time: Noon - 1:30 PM
Location: Country Kitchen Catering (Lower level of The Keg)
1715 Mayor Magrath Dr. S.
Cost: $10.00 (includes lunch)

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