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Ontario officers add Tasers to arsenal

Every police officer in the Province of Ontario may soon be carrying a Taser as well as a service revolver and a billy club.
The province allows some officers to carry what are legally called "conducted energy weapons." Tasers are the best known brand of the weapons.

In the Niagara Regional Police Department, around 60 supervisors and special weapons teams have Tasers.

The new rules from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services would allow every officer to have the units on their belts.

Deputy Chief Joe Matthews says there are some cost issues for a force with 650 officers. Tasers cost about $1,000. Plus, additional training is required and there are additional costs for operational cartridges.

"For us as a police service and for all of our officers out on a street every day, we will have to use force in certain circumstances, we want to use the least amount of force necessary," Matthews said.

"So, what this decision will do if every officer is allowed to carry a conducted energy weapon will just give one more option to our officers out on the street."

Police have long debated how to handle a person who is out-of-control, without firing a hand gun. Tasers are often seen as that alternative.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.