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Australian police to use Tasers

Dale Mills has recently become a regular Webdiarist, beginning with Japan vs the Whales on Jauary 17. He specialises in police matters, his last piece being Has the police state arrived? Thanks Dale.

by Dale Mills 

NSW Police are conducting a trial preparatory to the introduction of Tasers by Australian police. Tasers are hand-held stun guns that fire two metal probes attached to copper wires, delivering a 55,000-volt electric shock that lasts for five seconds.

Victims typically fall to the ground and involuntarily urinate, with all major muscle groups going into spasm. The guns have an effective range of 6.4 metres, with the possibility that inaccurate shooting will hit bystanders.

The new Public Order and Riot Squad will trial the Tasers for six months, according to the February 7 Sydney Morning Herald. The squad was set up on January 1 and is part of the Counter-Terrorism and Public Order unit. If the trial is successful, police minister Carl Scully said, Tasers will be issued to police on general duties.

Premier Morris Iemma said, “We are giving this specialist squad the equipment they need to crack down on criminals and troublemakers”. Being a “troublemaker” is not against the law in NSW.

Iemma added that the stun guns could also be used against individuals “committing serious civil disobedience or serious criminality”.

Chief Superintendent Peter Gillam said the trial Tasers will be used only when there was the “highest level of disobedience”. He added, “It may be an opportunity in these sorts of events to isolate ringleaders [who] need to be removed from the situation”.

A 2004 CBS News report counted more than 40 deaths related to the use of Tasers in the United States. Many of those who died following the use of Tasers had been electrocuted several times with the device. Since 2000, at least five different medical examiners in the US have listed Tasers as a factor in the cause of death.

A study by a senior cardiologist, Arch Broughton, at the Alfred Hospital in Victoria, found that Tasers could cause injury by the electrical barbs disrupting heart pacemakers. Other risks include fractures or head injuries caused by victims suddenly collapsing.

A 2005 report by Amnesty International states that there were 103 Taser-related deaths in the US and Canada between June 2001 and March 2005. Amnesty was also able to examine reports provided by Taser International Inc, which manufactures the weapon, showing that Tasers were used by police officers against children, people who were already restrained and physically disabled individuals. They were also used against distressed individuals, instead of assistance from mental health professionals.

Taser International denies that being stunned can result in death or permanent injury, saying that trials on dogs and pigs have been satisfactory.

Responding to the announcement of the trial, NSW Greens MP Lee Rhiannon said: “There is no independent research showing Tasers are safe but a lot of hard evidence that they kill ... NSW Police introduced capsicum spray as a self-defence tool but before long it was turned into another police weapon. We don’t want a repeat of that trend. The government should ban Tasers from our streets, not expand their use.”

A police spokesperson has confirmed that the use of water cannon is also being considered by the NSW Police public order management committee, according to the February 8 Daily Telegraph.

The Amnesty International report on Tasers can be found here.

The CBS story can be found here.

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Does it shock anyone to learn who the non-executive Chairman of Harrington Group, developer of ShockRounds™ technology, is these days?

Haven't heard of ShockRounds™?  Well my friends this is, according to Harrington Group's own marketing blurbs, "a revolutionary concept in electrified projectiles that is intended to minimise casualties and injuries in situations such as riots, terrorism threats, crowd disturbances, etc."

In other words, it's a Taser replacement product. You can even watch a little Quicktime demo on the link provided above.

weapons against civilians.

I thought the microwave weapon was rather startling. Apparently people usually run away before their skin heats up to critical levels. Probably nice for eyes and babies too. Are they expecting dissent soon? Sedition laws, new electronic surveillance laws, weapons against civilians, military call out provisions, and the aggressive deporting of anyone teaching how to organise a demonstration effectively. Hmmm.


Getting warmer

Yes Angela it may be 'non-lethal' but just the idea of that microwave weapon turned on a civilian crowd really gets my blood boiling.  Obviously others don't feel the same, after all they are investing in the companies that make these things.

Take the makers of that microwave weapon MDM Group, Inc for example, they are a group of companies focused on "the Homeland Security, Biodefense, Law Enforcement and Security industries" to use their words.  I'd say they're focused on making money from fear.

They own the Harrington Group and did you notice who that Harrington Group head is?  None other than former Liberal Member for Wentworth Peter King.  It makes me wonder how many other politicans look to make money from this kind of stuff.

Gobsmacked - by ...!

Gobsmacked! Peter King, blueribbon conservative, northshore, relative of Anderson etc...kicked out by Turnbull, too. He might be worried, eh? hehe. Seriously, here is a BBC article about what really went on, not sci fi ,not aliens I reckon the alien thing was a way of having subjects needed for government tests as hinted in Xfiles), real experiments upon the public as recent as the 80s!! Including subway releases - remember the recent airport terminal shutdown here? And the recent mall problem? One just wonders as it appears one really would be wise not to trust some in covert power positions to have the usual ethical queasiness we would have. Even clusters of diseases that don't make sense like the Hunter Valley nursing home, with killer flu despite immunisation last year. All probably coincidences, but it is a shame that the polio vaccine incident shows we are not given choices regarding what is best for us.

What if they are wrong? I seriously wonder about the demographics of the HIV virus and have read wild but not improbable accounts of questionable vaccine tests on prisoners in the 70s, but how could one really test the veracity of such a claim? Perhaps sequence the virus and compare for variation and thus history. Supposedly it came to the US via Haiti. Why? Here’s what governments do to us:


Now I am going to think of that suffering next time I eat my Weatbix. Wonder if the Quakers had that too, must get the winter porridge going soon, too. The court case should be interesting, if held open.

PS: Note it is a UK reporting US abuse. It is very cute about their own abuse of citizens in testing which has already come out in recent reports by UK veteran groups.

Enough is Enough

I remain to be convinced that the police can be trusted with this new toy.

Obviously this is preferable to using a gun.  But they said that about capsicum spray.

Sorry. There have been just too many incidents over many years to be comfortable about this, particularly in the context of expanded police powers and surveillance. Talk about "troublemakers" and "disobedience" does not help ease any concerns.

Time to call a halt and take stock. I will be far more impressed if the next official announcement was about what new safeguards for citizens were under consideration or what new training or screening measures for police were being trialled than what new weapon the police are to be issued to deal with "troublemakers" and the "disobedient".

Medical experience

Here is a review from the medical literature on the experience with Taser use. It would seem they are a better option than fire-arms but police need to use them in very specifically defined situations.

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