Uniformed gardaí should be issued with Tasers – GRA

 

Gardaí are calling for Taser stun guns to be supplied to uniformed officers who are usually first at the scene of a critical incident.

At present only specialist armed units have been supplied with Tasers, which are a gun which delivers an electric shock, but rank and file gardaí want them to be made available to all first responders.

Members of the GRA are also calling for the introduction of body cameras to provide clearer evidence at crime scenes and reduce the number of false allegations against gardaí.

The issues are to be debated at the annual conference of the Garda Representative Association which gets under way in Wexford today.

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

An ANPR camera recorded much of the incident in the Cherrywood Business Park last Sunday-week when Mark Hennessy was shot dead by a garda, and members of the GRA want such cameras to be installed in every frontline patrol vehicle.

Gardaí in Cavan and Monaghan are seeking an increase in the number of Armed Response Units to ensure one is located in each garda division.

In the northern region at present, there an ASU in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal and another in Co Louth with none for the counties in-between – Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan and Monaghan.

The GRA says armed response units should be able to respond within minutes without having to travel long distances to a scene

Delegates are also seeking better facilities for firearms training, more driver training and for all patrol cars to be manned with two gardaí at all times.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News At One, President of the Garda Representative Association Ciaran O’Neill said that management of An Garda Síochána have already accepted that Tasers are necessary for gardaí, he says they simply want them rolled out to rank and file officers for their personal protection too.

He said that up to 12 members of the force are injured in work every week and are unable to report for duty.

He said that studies have shown that in incidents where Tasers are produced, but not used, rates of compliance improve 85%-90%.

“We are looking at a situation currently where 12 gardaí are injured every week. And that’s injured and unable to report for duty.

“And that’s the figures that are just unacceptable to our members. Tasers aren’t new; the armed support unit and the Emergency Response Unit currently use them as a non-lethal option and we’re looking for them for personal protection for every member on the front line”, he said.

Mr O’Neill also called for management to give officers body cameras for their own protection and for the protection of the public.

He said many people behave better when they know they are being recorded. He also said that the footage can prevent the necessity of frivolous investigations and is a great evidence tool.

He said that the force has not replaced their stab vests in ten years, and he wonders if there are better quality vests now available for members.

He also called for each division to have their own Armed Response Unit. He said this is particularly important in the border areas. He said that currently it can take up to 40 minutes for armed back up units to respond to a call because of where they are located.

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