Robyn Doolittle
The Star
March 26, 2008

Police officers used Tasers 404 times during 368 incidents on Toronto streets last year, a new report shows.

That number has more than doubled since 2006, but so has the number of officers armed with the electroshock weapons.

Two years ago, 88 officers were armed with Tasers and the controversial weapons were used 174 times in 156 incidents.

In the same year, the Toronto Police Service launched its Taser pilot project. It was deemed a success, and the police services board approved Taser use for all front-line supervisors.

By the end of 2007, 454 front-line supervisors and Emergency Task Force officers were armed with the device.

The report also breaks down the way in which Tasers were used.

Last year, Tasers were fully deployed – meaning police fired darts – 46 per cent of the time, compared to 37 per cent of the time in 2006. A Taser is considered used if it is pulled from its holster.

“What’s not in the report, but is becoming apparent in speaking to officers who are authorized to use Tasers, they are seeing many cases where they don’t have to use them,” said police spokesperson Mark Pugash.

“The mere fact that someone knows the officer has it acts as a de-escalating factor.”

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