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Transit taser probe launched

The use of Tasers by Metro Vancouver’s Transit Police Service will be investigated by officers from another force under the direction of B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.

The move follows last week’s release of incident reports showing officers who patrol SkyTrain and buses sometimes Tasered suspects who were not violent but merely “non-compliant.”

Transit Police chief officer Robert Kind said he asked the commissioner to lead an external investigation due to the “importance of ensuring the utmost public confidence.”

Kind will delegate his authority to the chief of whatever police force is named.

Deputy Police Complaints Commissioner Bruce Brown agreed that a separate force must carry out the investigation.

“It’s important for the overall transparency and independence of the investigation to be done by an outside agency,” Brown said.

That’s because the Transit Police Service had already reviewed the 10 Taser use incidents and decided internally that officers acted appropriately and within the bounds of the service’s use-of-force policy.

“They had obviously made a determination about the issue,” Brown said, adding it would be “difficult” for the force to conduct the investigation.

The commissioner’s office had already asked Transit Police officials for details on the Taserings last week when the B.C. Civil Liberties Association filed a formal complaint, requiring an investigation.

Brown said the probe will look at not just whether individual officers used the Taser appropriately but also the force’s use-of-force policy that sets rules on use of the electroshock weapons.

Kind said Transit Police will fully cooperate with the investigation.

Transit Police are also conducting an internal review of the use-of-force policy.

And the transit force is also to be part of a provincial inquiry into police Taser use.

None of the people Tasered by Transit Police since they received the stun guns last summer have filed formal complaints.

The commission has handled about 20 complaints about Taser use by other B.C. forces since 2004, as well as about 10 complaints where Tasers were only displayed and not actually used.

jnagel@surreyleader.com

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