Tasers yet to be proven effective in Nunavik, police force says

Weapon used only once after being sent to four communities last spring

Inukjuak’s KRPF detachment is one of four in Nunavik equipped with a Taser. But the police force said the Taser has been used successfully only once since they were deployed in March 2018, because they don’t penetrate heavy clothing, like parkas. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)

By Sarah Rogers

KUUJJUAQ—The Kativik Regional Police Force introduced Tasers to four Nunavik communities last spring, with the hope that they might ease violent confrontations and reduce civilian deaths.

But officers have only successfully used a Taser once ever since.

That’s because the tools are usually used in outdoor settings, but not effective through heavy clothing, KRPF chief Jean-Pierre Larose told Viens commission hearings last month.

“The actual darts cannot penetrate parkas,” Larose told hearings on Nov. 22 in Kuujjuaq.

Nunavik’s police force introduced Tasers as a tool to help de-escalate violent, high-risk incidents, particularly ones involving an armed individual.

Last March, the KRPF received its first Taser for its Kuujjuaq detachment and deployed three more of the stun guns to Inukjuak, Puvirnituq and Salluit.

The goal has been to send a Taser to each of the region’s 14 communities, but Larose said the force is also looking at what other weapons they could use.

Tasers are costly, he explained, at $500 a cartridge.

“The cost of purchasing and requalifying the equipment is very expensive,” Larose said. “So as an intermediate weapon it’s interesting but … we are studying [other options.}”

Responding to questions from hearing prosecutors, Larose said that the KRPF is not equipped to deal with most calls involving an active shooter, with between just three and five officers in each community and the absence of the same equipment and training a SWAT team would have.

“Not only are we not equipped, it’s not part of our level of services,” Larose said.

That’s why the force often calls in backup from the Sûreté du Québec. But Larose reiterated concerns about the length of time it can take for help to arrive.

That was the case in September, when an Inukjuak man barricaded himself in a home, later threatening police. KRPF officers shot and killed the man before the SQ even arrived.

That incident is one of a number of police-related shooting deaths Inukjuak has seen in recent years, prompting a community meeting with the KRPF scheduled for this week.

KRPF’s management has also fielded a number of requests to see the force call in an Inuit negotiator or elder to help speak to suspects who are threatening violence, an issue that was raised again during Kativik Regional Government council meetings last week.

Larose asked regional councillors to help the force identity who could fill that role—someone who could work with what he called a “multi-disciplinary committee” that would respond to crisis situations.

“If it can help us de-escalate and to resolve issues without violence, then it’s my goal,” he said.

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(4) Comments:

  1. Posted by Nunavik on

    Probably don t work very well in the winter considering every is all bundeled up

  2. Posted by Still dangerous though on

    Tasers are one of most dangerous weapon yet to consider for weak people who has heart problems, it can kill a person with heart problems, heart murmur, a guy with heart stent etc.

    Even people who has epileptic seizures, I believe, it is not necessary, community concerns will rise for sure.

  3. Posted by Former Cop on

    I wonder how they measure “success.” Through my career, the simple act of pulling it out and pointing the laser at someone was often enough to calm people down and stop them from fighting or resisting. Overworked police officers then failed to report this “use” when it wasn’t technically used because the paper work for the taser alone added another hour to a single file. I’m sure it was used a lot more than once.

  4. Posted by Uncle Bob on

    Often misused by the police, one person here was killed after being tasered sixteen times.
    I believe that when used multiple times on a person they are unable to get a breath so they struggle more and are tasered more leading to their death.

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