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Students oppose use of tasers by Belleville police

By: Stelios Pappas

BELLEVILLE — Overwhelmingly Loyalist College students do not like the idea of Belleville police carrying Tasers, despite efforts by the province and council to arm officers.

Belleville police announced Thursday over the next few years it is looking at giving all on-duty officers the electronic devices. These electric conductive weapons fires probes generating 40,0000 to 50,000 volts and are used to subdue people rather than a gun.

Belleville officers were given a Taser talk at the police service board meeting Thursday. On duty officers are going to be equipped with Tasers and most people are on the fence about it. Officers equipped with Tasers must be tased as part of their training.

An informal survey of college students was clearly opposed.

It is similar to being hit by a shot from a gun, said Jake Dobson Thursday. A bullet will always be more lethal compared to electricity.

Janet Quinn said she is also against it.

‘I can’t say I’m in favor… I don’t agree with Tasers,” she said. “That’s a lot of volts.”

How much is 40,000 volts – more then a shock from a cattle prod at the initial point of contact. Once contact with the Taser probes is made the volts drop to around 1,200 at about 19 pulses per second.

According to Ohio State University, it is not amount of volts that are deadly, but the amount of direct current the body receives in the form of a shock.

A Van Der Graff, a giant circular ball often used at museums to demonstrate electricity, can generate over 100,000 volts. All that will do is make your hair stand up. The reason people can die from a 120-volt outlet is the amperage or direct current which will flow through the body.

Most commonly many people use the ball analogy: a wrecking ball represents a bolt of lightening, a bowling ball an electrical outlet and a tennis ball represents the Taser device in terms of the current directed through the body.

While the majority of students were opposed, there were some student who agreed.

“With the recent murders in Moncton I’m surprised they aren’t getting AK-47s or M16s” Angela Fitzpatrick said, “It makes sense as long as they use them well. But not all of them are going to use it well.”

Still others sit on the fence.

“It bothers me because I don’t think the police force needs them,” said Rob Thompson who was setting up for relay for life at Loyalist College.

Non-lethal weapons such as paper spray are available to the public but we don’t want vigilante justice either, he said.

“It’s a mixed bagged,” he said

These concerns are not un-justified. Tasers have been a point of controversy constantly and you would only need to go on Google news and type Tasers to see. Back in 2007, four RCMP officers in Vancouver airport killed Robert Dziekanski using a Taser. The case is still going on today with the police still facing outrage from the public.

Paul Thompson said it is an important tool.

“You don’t question the police or you’ll get tased,” he said.