News from NZ Police
A conference hosted by New Zealand Police this week brings together some of the world’s leading experts in Taser best practice.
The third annual Australasian ECD (or Electronic Control Device) Best Practice Conference runs in Wellington from October 29 – 1 November.
National Manager Operations, Superintendent Barry Taylor, says the purpose of the conference is to provide a platform for discussion of emerging trends and issues relating to use of the Taser, with the goal of sharing knowledge and improving best practice and safe use of the device.
“The conference is a great opportunity to hear from some of the world’s leading authorities on Taser, including technical, medical, policy and academic experts, as part of improving our understanding of the wider tactical operating environment and how as Police we might do things better.”
Police representatives from Australia and Singapore will also be attending the conference, and Mr Taylor says an important aspect is to encourage constructive debate and robust discussion of Taser-related issues.
“We are keen to generate as much constructive debate as possible among the range of people who have an interest in Taser as part of the wider use of force environment. This ranges from community and human rights groups, to government and non-government agencies and other Police jurisdictions.”
Mr Taylor says positive recommendations or actions arising out of the conference will be fed back to Police to help enhance Taser best practice.
“New Zealand Police are committed to safety and accountability regarding the use of Taser. This conference provides us with an important opportunity to build our understanding, share common experiences and improve our practices, which will ultimately improve public and Police safety.”
Tasers were rolled out nationally in March 2010, with 908 Tasers currently available to staff across the country, and 4,700 personnel trained in their use. Tasers have been discharged on 212 occasions since being rolled out, without life-threatening injury.
“While introduction of the Taser has given Police an important tactical tool that has proven extremely successful in de-escalating dangerous and potentially life-threatening situations, improving our understanding of the operating environment and our practices around Taser use is critical to its continued safe use.”
• There are currently 908 Tasers available to NZ Police staff across the 12 Police districts, with 4,700 staff trained in their use.
• Police Integrated Tactical Training (or PITT) is the umbrella under which all tactical options training, including use of the Taser, is carried out. It involves a mix of practical ‘live’ and simulated scenario-based training, which is supported by on the job experience. There is a strong focus on supporting officers to use sound judgement and make good decisions based on robust assessment of the level of threat faced, often under extreme pressure.
• Since their national rollout on 22 March 2010, until 30 June 2012, Police have presented or “shown” the Taser on 1320 occasions, and discharged it on a further 212 occasions. Use of the Taser during this period has resulted in 13 injuries – 1 severe, 7 moderate, and 5 minor.
• The Taser was first trialled by NZ Police from 1 September 2006 – 31 August 2007 in four districts – Waitemata, Auckland City, Counties Manukau and Wellington. It was then introduced initially into the same four districts from 1 March 2009 – 21 March 2010.
• Taser is one of a graduated range of tactical options available to Police. This also includes baton, OC or “pepper” spray, and firearms – though communication remains an officer’s primary tool for resolving most situations. The Taser has to date proven extremely effective in de-escalating dangerous and potentially life-threatening situations.
• New Zealand is among a large number law enforcement agencies internationally who use the Taser as a tactical option. This includes Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.