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Sheep shearer criticises use of Taser

Published: 8:39PM Sunday May 06, 2012 Source: ONE News

An unarmed sheep shearer tasered this week has joined critics saying police use the devices far too quickly and often, as even more are set to be rolled out on the frontline.

Close to 1000 tasers will soon be in all frontline police cars a result of a review last year, which will also see guns in patrol cars.

Shearer Peter Papa was unarmed, though not willing to co-operate, when he was stopped and tasered by police with 50,000 volts.

"(I) just freaked out. I got tasered pretty much straight away, (there was) not much warning," he told ONE News.

Papa ran when four cops had showed up at his Paihiatua home to arrest him on minor outstanding matters.

A police dog was set on him, but it was the sting of the Taser that finally sent him crashing to the ground.

"They're like fish hooks and they stick into you, especially if you're not wearing any clothes. I had to get them cut out by a doctor," he said.

Papa was arrested and charged but is now considering laying a complaint.

Police would not comment on this case, but did say anyone found facing the law ultimately chooses how the situation will end.

"Police do not dictate the use of what tactical option gets used, the offender or suspect does. We aim to de-escalate any situation where force has to be used," said Superintendent Barry Taylor, NZ police national manager operations.

As part of the $8.8 million fit-out to arm the frontline, around 700 tasers will be moved from police stations to patrol cars and several hundred more will be ordered to make up the numbers.

The fit-out will include a bush master rifle, a glock and body armour, which, along with the taser, will be locked into more than 900 police cars by the end of June.

In the past six month, around 1200 extra police have been trained on how to use a Taser.

Last year the Taser was used 96 times, up slightly on the previous year when it was introduced, but many think soon they will be used a lot more.

"Almost inevatibly if you make a tool more widespread, more available, it will be used more often," said Green Party police spokesman David Clendon.

"They should absolutely be last resort weapons and we do think now they're being used to undertake common place policing work."

But the Police Association believe Tasers are a safer option.

"The more available Tasers are the safer it is, not only for police but also for those we are policing, because often the alternative is a firearm," said the association's Greg O'Connor.