Thursday, 20 Dec 2007
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Taser shouldn't be rushed - committee

By KIM RUSCOE - Fairfax Media | Thursday, 20 December 2007
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The results of a weapons trial shows police should not rush the introduction of Taser stun guns, a law committee says.

Tasers needed to be seen as a weapon of next-to-last resort, just short of deadly force, and not just as another option, Auckland District Law Society public issues committee said in an article issued today.

"Information arising out of the recent trial shows that his was often not the case," committee convenor Professor Noel Cox said.

Overseas experience and recent events covered in the media showed there was a tendency for police to develop a casual attitude towards these weapons and the trial showed the potential for similar attitudes to develop among New Zealand police, he said.

While not totally opposed to the use of Tasers, the committee said a number of concerns had yet to be publically addressed by police bosses, including strict guidelines for use of the weapon.

The final decision as to their implementation should be made by an independent body with the public allowed an opportunity for submissions, Mr Cox said.

"The ends must not be allowed to justify the means and this is why, if Tasers are introduced, strict guidelines surrounding their use are a necessity," he said.

If those guidelines were not enforced by police, public opinion would quickly turn against them, Mr Cox said.

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