POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 43 NEW GLASGOW — Police in this town say they are still confident that the use of a Taser is an effective, safe means of force. In other municipal departments, it’s a mixed reaction. New Glasgow Deputy Chief Eric MacNeil said it’s considered a level-two force, in the same category as pepper spray or a police baton. And, unlike the other two, he said the Taser doesn’t have a lasting effect. He points out, however, that police will first use communication as a means of dealing with a subject. “We view the Taser as an intermediate weapon. We see it as a very useful tool, for public safety first and foremost and for police officer safety.” “It’s an alternative to using level-three force, which would be your firearm. Because, really, if someone approaches a police officer with a weapon in hand — and the officer has nothing to combat or to respond to that, if he didn’t have a baton, pepper spray or Taser, he’d ultimately have to use his firearm,” MacNeil said. “We feel that it’s a safe method of use of force. We think it’s safer than getting into a physical struggle with a subject because of the possibility of the subject and the police officer being injured.” Police in New Glasgow have had a Taser since 2004. Sgt. Steve Chisholm, the department’s use-of-force instructor, said it was first used in 2005. Since, he said police have unholstered the Taser 15 times. Of those times, it was discharged 13 times, “Either the probes were deployed or it was used in the touch method.” Often, he said, the presentation alone is enough to gain complain compliance. Six officers carry the device, MacNeil said, the shift supervisors, who are either corporal or sergeant rank. Every officer to carry one has had training. Additionally, members of the Emergency Response Team have had training in how to use a Taser and MacNeil adds more officers are likely to be trained in their use in the future. He wouldn’t say whether or not the Oct. 14 incident, which led to the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, will change their policy towards use of a Taser. The department’s current use policy is very similar to that of Halifax, where a number of the New Glasgow police officers received their training. And Chisholm points out that it isn’t policy that dictates use of force, it’s the perception of the officer who is confronting a subject. “All policy is, is a guideline for how it is to be used, but the decision is always based on perception.” In Stellarton, Police Chief Amby Heighton said Stellarton police acquired Tasers about a year ago. About five or six officers carry them. And, so far, they haven’t been used. In the wake of the incident in B.C., Heighton said he’s debating the future use of the Taser in the department. “I’m debating it right now,” he said. But, at the same time, he said the officers that use them are confident in their use. In Westville, Chief Don Hussher said the department doesn’t currently have a Taser. Although some the officers in the department are trained, he said “we were considering them, but basically, we haven’t gone down that road yet.” In Trenton, Chief Bob White said the department doesn’t have a Taser either. It was an option, he said, but for now White said he’s going to watch how the public inquiry unfolds.” “Until some of this gets straightened out, I won’t be purchasing one.” As originally published The News New Glasgow Police Favour Taser, Other Reviews Mixed Sgt. Steve Chisholm discharges a Taser at the New Glasgow Police Department. Police in New Glasgow say they feel confident the Taser is still an effective police tool. Stellarton police have Tasers, but havenʼt had to use them, while the other two municipal departments havenʼt purchased them. Sean Kelly - The News New Glasgow police have used their Taser more than a dozen times and still feel it’s safe. By SEAN KELLY