Ontario allowing police officers to carry stun guns

Ontario is allowing local police services to decide which officers will be permitted to carry conducted energy weapons (CEWs), commonly known as stun guns or Tasers.

Currently, the province restricts the use of these devices to certain designated positions and police teams such as members of tactical units, hostage rescue teams, containment teams and frontline supervisors.

The new approach is based on evidence that shows CEW use results in fewer significant injuries to both subjects and police officers when compared to other use-of-force options.

Since CEWs were first introduced in Ontario in 2002, the government says it has been carefully reviewing independent research, stakeholder input, and the recommendations of several coroners' inquest juries, all of which contributed to this decision.

After consulting with policing and community groups, the government is introducing changes that:

• provide direction and guidance as to when a CEW would be deemed to be appropriate
• increase reporting provisions (CEW use will be reported in an open and transparent manner, including when a CEW is displayed with the intention to achieve behaviour compliance)
• enhance training, including scenario-based training and training for interactions with people with mental health issues, to assist in ensuring the safe, appropriate and effective use of CEWs
• expect that police services should engage local communities prior to deciding to expand CEW deployment in their jurisdiction.