Following is the text (with minor adjustments) of my presentation to the Committee Of the Whole (COW), Apr. 22, 2013. And some councilor-reaction to it.
Text I am aware of 3 versions of the local back-to-tasers story:2 by the police-chief and 1 by a police-sergeant: The chief's are direct quotes in the Nelson Daily and his broadcast explanations on the CBC - both lacking substance and only somewhat similar. The sergeant's - more to some point than the chief's and different from either one of his - I sought after the chief failed to respond to my written request for clarification. All 3 versions are neither comprehensive, nor do they address why this sudden need for tasers in - what the CBC refers to within this context - the small town Nelson.
The Board Throughout this, the Nelson Police Board(NPB) - signing-off on the tasers - has remained in its customary behind-closed-doors mode, although it is accountable to the community of Nelson. And runs - according to its Strategic Plan, 2011 - 2015, its stated goal to increase community awareness. But not really! Part of the reason can be found in the mayor - thanks to the wonderful, whacky world of BC-politics - also being permanent chair of this board. Thus anything coming from him - viaCity Hall! - in regards to the police - period! - can automatically be perceived by the public as some conflict of interest. Wearing 2 hats! Or not! Or what! I am not aware of any recusal ever from acting as either mayor or chair, within this double-duty context. Outward silence seems the safe way to go. For Council as well: what with councilors - usually allowing themselves to be out-reasoned by the mayor - having given the financial go-ahead for the tasers!
The large photo on the NPB's main-page - below the large heading Nelson Police Board - shows 9 people, 2 of them in uniforms and looking like identical twins. All posing for the camera: NPB-picture time! None are identified by name/position on the Board. While - on following pages - a picture-and-name list comprises 4 so-called directors plus the mayor. Adding-up to 5.Go figure! Only the Board knows!
Small Town Nelson At the very same time of re-introduction of tasers here - we have the BC Coroner find that Robert Dziekanski died in an RCMP-multi-tasered-to-death homicide. 1 of 17 between 2002 and 2007 in Canada! Here closely followed by this item picked-up in the New York Times and then by several Nelson/taser-specific CBC news-segments.
So it's not very likely that the chief - with all this totally negative PR - will now retrace his steps to a comprehensive factual explanation. Re-introduction of tasers into the local mindscape by chief-and-chair is self-promoting - while scarily ignorant - for 3 reasons:
1. There's absolutely no need-based justification for this waste of taxpayers' money - while there is the absurdity of taxpayers paying for getting themselves tasered -particularly with this recently twice expanded police-force, Nelson-crime being negligible and the RCMP just down the street. 2. In view of the hooplah around so-called homeless and dogs by downtown-merchants - ramping-up their gimme-your-money volume - it seems like a veiled threat to just zap one-and-all into submission! 3. To outsiders it implies out-of-control crime. Potential tourists must worry: Nelson isn't safe. And if IT isn't - neither would WE be! Like getting stuck between a high crime-rate and cops ready to taser! So let's just go someplace else instead!
What these possible visitors don't know is that Nelson now may feel unsafe only because of its taser-packing cops, their less than forth-coming chief and unaccountable police-board. Mind you - there's also the recent overnight renaming of Nelson to - Harperville! Predictably - with Council's tacit approval and without community consultation.
End of presented text
Council - Reactive Councilor Cherbo - chairing the COW - defends tasers in Nelson by saying that they are useful in animal control as well. Right! That's why the NPB - prompted by Chair/Mayor Dooley - okayed probably around 30.000 taxpayered bucks to equip cops with these new toys! Question, Councilor: Don't we have local animal-control professionals? Cherbo then goes into elementary it's-not-my/our-job mode: declaring the NPB responsible. Not wholly, Councilor! Council is responsible - together with the inconsistent police-chief and absent mayor: it approved taser-funding! No defining questions about need asked!
Probable negative impact of taser-news on tourism is not an issue for Council.
The Fear-Factor No questions asked because the mayor is the NPB's chair - and Council habitually lines-up behind him. Ducks-in-a-row kinda thing! He's running their and the show - period - with Council following paper-trails. This particular show with his double-whammy! How good is that!
It would seem most efficient/reasonable to have approached him in this matter (he has not approached them!) - particularly what with the NPB beingaccountable to the community of Nelson and it's stated goal to increase community awareness. But councilors do not rock the boat ever: fear of personalized fall-out! The Nelson-thing: politics are personal, business is personal, and the personal is cliquish.
I am looking forward to the day when just 1 councilor will strongly voice an individual opinion - regardless of possible/imagined consequences to her/him: coming from integrity/conviction and genuine concern for flesh-and-blood, body-and-soul people. Here - in Nelson!
You either do it with fear - or you don't do it because of fear!
Also see 2 posts immediately below:
Nelson: A Shock To The System 7 Apr. 2013 Harperville And The Cop-Shop 12 Apr. 2013
Welcome Home, Old Buddy! 1. Apr. 4, 2013 The Nelson Daily: Police Chief Holland announces the return of the taser to Nelson. With the Nelson Police Board's approval. 2. Apr. 7, 2013 The blog-post immediately below - Nelson: A Shock To The System - looks at TASER International, the taser as a (possibly) deadly weapon and the chief's neither-here-nor-there explanation. 3. Apr. 8, 2013 The BC Coroner's Service declares the death of Robert Dziekanski a homicide - tasered to death. 4. Apr. 10, 2013 The New York Times runs an item regarding thisfinding. 5. Apr. 12, 2013 The CBC airs the return of the taser to the small town Nelson.
The Truth And Nothing But 1a. The chief calls carrying (thus using) a taser by police-officers voluntary, with annual re-certification necessary for those who do volunteer only. The need for tasers is not an issue. 2a. Receiving no reply from him to my request for clarification, I am told by a sergeant that all officers will be re-trained/certified, and that each one will make an individual decision whether or not to carry the weapon, at the beginning of his/her every shift. Both explanations clearly show differences. Need for tasers is not an issue. 5a. In the CBC interview, the chief says that only those who have been re-certified will carry a taser. There is no mention of some volunteering orall being re-certified. Need for tasers is not an issue.
Explanation #3 - his 2 are neither clear, consistent nor comprehensive; the sergeant's is somewhat to the point. But not really.
What really seems to be going on is that all officers will be re-trained/certified because all will be carrying a taser. With explanations neither here nor there not to frighten the horses and who cares.
The Nelson Police Board! Who? The return of the taser supposedly was okayed by this board, supposedly in charge of the cop-shop. "Supposedly" a major qualifier here. The Nelson Police Board is accountable to the community of Nelson ... it says on its website. But supposedly only - it consistently operates behind firmly closed doors. Its meetings are not advertised, although supposedly open to outsiders. And it has not posted any minutes of meetings since Dec. 2012, although supposedly they are available. And there has been no press-release from this board on the return of the taser and WHY and HOW MUCH? Seeing that an industrial-strength taser costs over US $1000, and then there are holsters, cartridges, training-targets, re-training/certification costs, etc.
The Board's website again: Municipal police boards are created independently from municipal councils and from the provincial government. This removes boards from partisan council and politics (sic). Yet - through the marvel of Canadian politics - the mayor is also designated Chair of the Board. Connect the dots!
Taser-A-Tourist Week! It will be interesting to see what local tourism-tethered voices will do about this. If anything! Seeing that the Board's/Mayor's/Chief's myopic and obviously self-serving decision was so closely followed by the Dziekanski-homicide-by-tasers determination, the New York Times write-up and the several-segments CBC run. An aggregate of worst-possible PR and many steps backwards into the dark ages, in terms of cultural development.
Potential tourists - contemplating a visit to the area - must ask themselves: What is so dangerous in Nelson that cops must pack a taser? How could we feel safe there - if they don't? Should we go somewhere else instead?
A taser is an electroshock weapon-line sold by TASER Inernational. It uses electrical current to disrupt voluntary control of muscles, causing "neuro-muscular incapacitation." - Wikipedia
Possibly disrupt permanently - as it does with Robert Dziekanski in an RCMP zap-fest,atVancouver's airport,14 Oct. 2007. And Quilem Registre - less than one week later - in Montreal. After 15 others in Canada before - within 5 years.
8 April, 2013 - The BC Coroner's Service declares Robert Dziekanski's death a homicide.
That Itch To Tingle! So the resulting poor PR for tasers has them unholstered up here - while south of the border and internationally they have continued to sell uninterrupted by the good TASER folk - it's their monopoly. A taser for everybody: even the little woman, in her favorite color yet - like pink! Oops, did I kill you? And you can find out via facebook which model in what color your friends like! So it says on the TASER website. Most little boys' (and girls'?) dream: a zapper!!!
According to www.taser.com: Total number of lives saved: 105406. Next life saved in 12 min 59 sec. A few days ago, and I don't know how this works - only The Big Tase does! Tells right there when - through a digital countdown thingie - and then ups the total of saved to a new number. Anyway, next one clicks on Learn More, and one does on the following page, where it all gets toned down a tad to: Taser products have saved 105406 people from potential death or serious injury. Of course, by the time you read this, many more will have been saved from potential death and serious injury. Thanks to many more people tasered, bless their hearts! For real! Seeing that many may argue: being attacked with this weapon - and a weapon it is! - can cause a serious or fatal injury.
Being wildly successful, today the company - Our Mission: Protect Life. Protect Truth. - is traded on NASDAQ. Its homebase is in Arizona(!), where various TASER Smart Weapons, t-shirts, visor-caps, etc can be bought in outlets like Spy Shop of Scottsdale, Hogleg Armory, Shooters Vault, Discount Gun Store. Once on the inside and a Certified TASER Instructor, one just may be invited into ... a private community (of instructors only) that enables collaboration between Certified TASER Instructors. Secret handshakes and codes and more neat stuff; zapping the hell out of each other!
Can Nelson Come Out To Play? Shoot! - for Canada it has to be online-shopping only, and/or calling them at 1-888-TASER-88 to talk to a TASER representative to walk you through the purchase process.
Like right now!
"As we speak, we are in line to send our use-of-force instructor to the Justice Institute to be recertified," Nelson Police Chief Wayne Holland told the Nelson Daily. "Every use-of-force instructor in BC will be trained to recertify the people in their own department, and that is happening right now." At the Justice Institute.
Because! The Nelson Police Board - law-enforcement experts all, including the mayor - its head - based on the rapidly escalating to just-about-out-of-control crime-rate in Metropolis Nelson (not to forget the homeless riff-raff!) - has decided to bring back tasers! Not a minute too soon either, if you ask me!
I mean, maybe redoing the Baker amenities - even with their benches gone over a month now! - will not be enough to keep the riff-raff out, come summer. Said riff-raff 100 per cent being the reason for the redo, according to Justin Pelant, incoming president of the Chamber of Commerce, and he would know! So, having tasers at the readymay be just the thing! At the same time, zapping an unruly tourist will put Nelson on the map in a refreshingly original way, to be sure! Out, damn spot!
Although! In the same Nelson Daily piece, 4 Apr. 2013: Holland says carrying a taser will be voluntary for Nelson's officers. "They are an optional tool," he says. "You do not have to carry them with you, but if you carry them you must be certified annually." More although: It is commendable that the Nelson Daily runs this item. Main page, too. While it is perplexing-or-not that so far this hasn't elicited a single reader-comment since publication 3 days ago! How Nelson!
Yes or No or What, Chief? Checking with the Nelson Policeby phone - the chief did not respond to an e-mail - I am told: All its officers are now being retrained/certified in using a taser, BUT they make the decision whether or not to actually carry one at the beginning of each shift. This is not about consistency but mood swings - the policy is that there is no policy. Or what. So there have to be enough functioning tasers for all at the beginning of each shift - just in case - and possibly a couple of back-ups, too. Theoretically, if an officer signs-out a taser just once in a year - he/she must be recertified for the next.
1. What is the board's rationale behind sort-of bringing tasers back to this small town? 2. Consideringthe substantial investment in and ongoing expenses of tasers-with-stuff and their maintenance, recertifying the recertifier (out-of-town) and carriers (here): what is the rationale behind they may but don't have to? 3. I can see it behind an officer not wanting to carry a taser: he/she may not think this necessary in the Nelson environment. A rational, reality-based decision. But I fail to see the rationale behind an officer wanting to carry a taser in the same environment. A subjective decision, seemingly based on the officer's particular emotional state prior to a shift. There could be 3 reasons for carrying: 3a. The officer feels/is unprepared for this job in the perceived as too stressful (dangerous?) Nelson environment. 3b. The officer is angry. 3c. The officer gets off on packing heat. 4. Clearly, response > result in similar given situations would vary between those who pack and those who don't. Crisis-intervention vs conflict-resolution. In Nelson! 5. Officers carrying/not carrying a taser may create an us/them-divide at the cop-shop. Not necessarily conducive to effective co-operation, essential in job-related stress-situations. 6. Unless this voluntary-thing is just a PR stunt to soft-pedal a possibly contentious issue. And they all (just happen to) carry. 7. What is the number of incidents here - since 2007 - in which using a taser definitively could have made a positive difference? Keeping in mind that the (usually treated as guilty therefore) tasered person may come to great harm.Which would take the positive out of the difference. 8. Running with the voluntary-scenario: there obviously is no clear/perceived need, thus the whole thing will mean squandering resources on all levels and cohesion within the police-force. 9. Conversely - if there were a clearly identified need for this weapon: why not have all officers carry it? And say so!
How about first trying the elsewhere proven to be effective crime-deterrent of a visible police-presence in the streets!