The NSW Police Commissioner said in 2008, at the time Tasers were rolled out to Local Area Commands,
If this is but one option that gives the police officers in the streets of NSW some alternative rather than to use deadly force, rather than to shoot somebody and killing them, then this is a good option.
According to the NSW Police Force’s Standing Operating Procedure (‘SOP’) for Taser Use, the circumstances in which Taser use is authorised are much broader:
The TASER may be used at the discretion of the TASER User as a tactical option after proper assessment of the situation and the environment to:
- Protect human life
- Protect yourself or others from person/s where violent confrontation or resistance is occurring or imminent
- Protect officer/s in danger of being over powered or to protect themselves or another person from injury
- Protection from animals.
The ‘Tactical Options Model’ provided in the SOPs also encourages officers to take account of the following factors when determining which tactic and/or weapon to use in a situation: Age; Gender; Size; Fitness; Skill Level; and Multiple Officers/Subjects.
Factors like cultural background and impairment from drugs and/or alcohol don’t appear. These are surely factors which may influence an individual’s behaviour and, in the case of drugs or alcohol, possibly alter a person’s physiological response to being Tasered.
Internationally, opinion is still divided as to whether Tasers can be described as ‘non-lethal’. The NSW Police Force SOPs describe them as a ‘less lethal’ option. The NSW Police Force has announced that detectives from the Homicide Squad are investigating all circumstances surrounding Mr Laudisio Curti’s death, including the deployment of police tactical options, with all information to be provided to the NSW Coroner.
The NSW Ombudsman has confirmed that he has independent oversight of the Police Taser investigation. The Ombudsman Bruce Barbour said: ‘All issues relating to the police involvement in this matter will be the subject of appropriate and thorough scrutiny by my office.’
It is hoped that Mr Laudisio Curti’s legacy will be a thorough review of police Taser use in NSW, particularly the practice of multiple applications of the Taser by one or more officers during the same incident. But before the NSW Ombudsman or the NSW Coroner have even commenced their investigations into the incident, the NSW Police Force is already apparently looking to ‘upgrade’ to ‘X2 Twin Tasers’, which provide a ‘back-up shot’.
NSW EDITORIAL COMMITTEE.