Sunday 24 June 2018

Tasers and body cams on agenda at GRA summit

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GRA logo
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Gardaí are demanding more Tasers and the introduction of body cameras as deterrents against attacks on members of the force.

Gardaí are demanding more Tasers and the introduction of body cameras as deterrents against attacks on members of the force.

They also believe the measures would reduce the number of false complaints against them and provide the courts with clearer evidence from a crime scene.

The Garda Representative Association, which has almost 11,000 rank-and-file members, will push for the moves at its annual conference, which gets under way this evening in Wexford town.

Association president Ciarán O'Neill will present them as the two key issues for the conference when he addresses Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin tomorrow and Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan on Wednesday.

But they are also expected to be hotly debated in motions tabled by the association's central executive committee and Sligo/Leitrim and Wicklow divisions.

Gardaí say that if both recommendations are accepted by their management, the benefits for all sides will far outweigh any costs.

"The body cam professionalises the police force," one executive member said last night. "The number of complaints will drop and, as a result, the cost of investigating those complaints will fall substantially. Evidence from the body cam will also give the courts a real-time view of what has taken place and make it easier to establish the truth".

At the moment, the Tasers are available only to the Special Branch, Emergency Response Unit and Armed Support Units.

But the association believes they should be rolled out to all first-responder gardaí.

Gardaí say the Taser provides a form of protection and gives them another less-than-lethal option in dangerous situations.

They argue that it is flippant to suggest that wider availability of Tasers could lead to abuse, and point out that this had not happened with pepper sprays or batons.

"Tasers would make people think twice about attacking a garda and would act primarily as a deterrent," they argue.

The conference is also likely to back a motion from Cavan-Monaghan delegates to increase the number of armed support units to ensure one is located in each Garda division.

Irish Independent

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