News desk Daily Telegraph:
REDUCTION OF TASER USE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA SINCE THE DEATH OF ROBERT DZIEKAŃSKI IN 2007
In the light of the Coroner’s report into the tasering death of Roberto Laudisio Curti, the ABC 7.30 news of the 14 year old by being tasered and other similar news stories you may be interested to know about the Royal Canadian Mounted Police experience following the tasering death of Robert Dziekański at Vancouver international airport (YVR) in October 14, 2007. He was dead within 26 seconds of the police arriving on the scene. No attempt was made to de-escalate the situation through using conflict communication skills before using the Taser. After initially convulsing and falling to the floor Mr. Dziekański was handcuffed and tasered several more times. He “suffered a surge of adrenaline amplified by the effects of the taser and the struggle with the officers that caused a cardiac arrest. … Mr. Dziekanski was neither defiant or resistant upon approach by the officers, and that he did not present a threat when he brandished a stapler in frustration.” Braidwood Report, 2008. (Sound familiar ?)
The incident caused a national outcry and brought the highly regarded RCMP, a world renowned police force and a national icon of Canada, into disrepute attracting critical media coverage for years following. Discrepancies between the official RCMP media explanation and a video taken by a passenger at the scene caused further humiliation and reputational damage and an upsurge in critical media reporting on RCMP operations and culture nationally.
It was an avoidable tragedy and a national embarrassment for the ‘Force’ from which it has not yet fully recovered. A Judicial inquiry report headed by former Judge Thomas Braidwood was published in 2008. Interestingly in a matter relating to his report findings ‘Taser International’ in protection of their products challenged the findings including the finding “that tasers can kill”. This challenge was rejected by a B.C. Supreme Court Justice. ” Source: Ian Bailey, Globe and Mail, Vancouver Last updated Thursday, Aug. 23 2012.
87% reduction in Taser use
In recent news coverage from Canada Taser use by the RCMP and other police organizations in British Columbia has been reduced by 87%. In summary Canadian CTV news reported that “Taser use by police in British Columbia is down 87 per cent since Robert Dziekanski died at Vancouver’s airport” . Statistically Tasers were used “640 times in 2007, compared to 85 deployments last year” and that British Columbia police, including the RCMP ” appear to be relying more heavily on verbal skills and physical tools other than Tasers when dealing with potentially dangerous situations.” Source:
Are there Lessons for NSW Police to be learned ? It might be worth looking at the level of the hyper vigilance officer survival training being taught in NSW. During my doctoral research with the RCMP in Canada in 2010 there were concerns raised that young police were being preconditioned through officer survival training to be hyper vigilant of the dangers on the job. Just as Mr. Corti was in a drug induced state of “excitable delirium”, a term used to describe the mental state of Robert Dziekanski, it is worth considering that the police in chase were in fact in a hyper vigilant high stress amyglada/hypothalamus triggered excitable stress state themselves.
There is no doubt that the families of Robert Dziekanski and Laudisio Curti
Have experienced the worst of trauma and personal loss in these two separate incidents. Let us, however, not forget that the police attending the two scenes
will also have to carry the weight of such trauma and loss in their own lives forever. The Coroner’s comments that they behaved with an “ungoverned pack mentality” are very hard to live with.
I was a lecturer/consultant to the RCMP for a decade in the 1980’s and developed ‘Crisis Intervention’ and ‘Hostage Negotiators’ courses for both the RCMP and other British Columbia police organizations. I also modified and delivered similar programs to several law – enforcement organizations in Australia to manage conflict/stress/perception/situational awareness.
At present I am a doctoral scholar doing a PhD at Macquarie Graduate School of Management focusing on an RCMP critical incident which took place in the 1980’s as a lens to examine the relationship between trauma and resilience at both the personal and organisational levels.
Former police behavioural consultant
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