Thursday, July 08, 2010

Humanity vs Corporatism (Update)

Another round in the battle between do-gooders and evil-doers?

Taser International's lawyers are challenging the findings of the Braidwood Commission in the BC Supreme Court.

Taser International says its bottom line is hurting and its reputation has been slurred in the wake of a provincial public inquiry report that concluded the weapon can cause death. ...

David Neave, a lawyer for the U.S. manufacturer, told Judge Robert Sewell on Monday that Taser is concerned about Braidwood’s conclusion that the weapon can cause death. “It’s a slur on Taser that its device can kill,” Neave said. “That’s a slur that ought to be removed.”

Sewell noted the commission had concluded the “harm this product could cause carries with it a low risk of death.” However, Neave said there is no medical or scientific evidence to support that the weapon has caused any deaths.

Sewell challenged Neave further and said use of the weapon, if carried out by anyone other than police officers, could be considered assault causing bodily harm. “This product is designed to cause harm,” the judge said.

Neave rejected that. “It’s designed to incapacitate,” he said. “Certainly there is a pain component associated.

I believe that the terms that I've emphasized, if employed by anyone other than a lawyer working for Taser International, could be considered weasel words.

Taser International claims that Braidwood's conclusions "had caused concern with customers around the world and it was hurting potential sales". The price of stock shares seems to be affected also, as a result of the commissioner's plain language observations that were widely disseminated in news items.

I blogged about Braidwood last year. I mentioned, and linked to a letter sent to Sofia Cisowski from Dr Mike Webster, RCMP staff psychologist. There are points that he used that need repeating, in light of what happened in Toronto during the g-20.

As in all democratic societies, the police in Canada are given the authority to use force to ensure that the laws of the country are upheld and public safety and security are maintained. This, of course, carries the expectation that police persons and their organizations will be accountable to the public for any use of force . However, even though the community provides the police with the ability to employ legitimate force, several questions arise:

i. What is a reasonable use of force?
ii. Why and under what circumstances is one type of force chosen over another?; and, iii. What standards are in place to ensure that there is consistency in addressing use of force situations?

The police, in Canada, have attempted to address these questions by developing use of force models. No matter whether it is the RCMP's Incident Management Intervention Model (IMIM) or the more widely used National Use of Force Framework (NUFF), these are attempts to integrate force options (e.g. presence, communication…etc.) with a generic decision making model (e.g. assess-plan-act). There are some key principles underlying these models:

i. The primary responsibility of a police person is to preserve and protect life;
ii. The primary objective of any use of force is to ensure public safety;
iii. The safety of the police person is essential to public safety; and,
iv. The use of force model does not replace the law.

In May 2009 blogpost, I refered to a tipping point,

"the level at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable", as defined by Malcolm Gladwell in his book, refining the expression as a sociological term: "the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point."
Dr Dawg also used that expression in this post.

There are reports, many documented by lawyers who attempted to communicate with their clients (activists pre-emptively apprehended and detained in cells during the g-20) that young people from the province of Québec were specifically targeted by police organizations.

That information must be presented in the course of the civilian-led public review into the behaviour of the riot police in order to identify the source of directives that dictated their actions - even though the head of the Toronto Police union has rightfully stated that it won't be a a full-fledged public inquiry that would be legally binding, as ordered by the province.

Photo source.

Update: As more information about the abusive policing methods on display at the g-20 emerge, some media are suggesting that "the RCMP were largely at the helm" of the security operations. This makes the information supplied by Dr David Webster relevant to these circumstances also.

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