POLITICS

Hamilton wants province to pay to train and equip cops with stun guns

10/16/2013 05:03 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
HAMILTON - Hamilton police want to arm their frontline officers with Tasers now that it's approved by the province, but city officials say they want Queen's Park to pick up the tab.

Hamilton's general issues committee has voted to ask the province to pay the nearly $1 million cost for the proposed expansion of the use of conducted energy weapons.

Currently, 219 of Hamilton's police officers are trained to use Tasers.

The police force's $992,000 request, based on the province's decision to allow for their expanded use, would train and equip another 592 officers.

The province announced in August that it would permit all frontline police officers to carry stun guns, but said police forces would have to find the funding in their budgets.

Ontario police chiefs and associations had been pushing the government for years to expand the use of stun guns, and coroner's inquests have recommended expanding their use since 2004.

Ontario's interim chief coroner and many police groups support the government's decision.

Chief forensic pathologist Michael Pollanen has said it's "unusual and quite rare" for someone to die after being stunned by a Taser and there's no clear evidence that it's the primary cause of death.

The Police Association of Ontario is urging all police forces to start training and equipping frontline cops with stun guns.

But Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis has said the government is simply passing the buck by refusing to pay for the stun guns.

Police forces that can't afford Tasers could be blamed if there's an incident that may have been prevented by the use of a stun gun, Francis said following the provincial announcement.

(CHML, The Canadian Press)