All trained and accredited St Helena Police Officers will carry a Conducted Energy Device (CED) commonly known as a Taser from Monday, 29 April 2019.
A CED (see photo attached) is a less lethal weapon system designed to temporarily incapacitate a subject through use of an electrical current which temporarily interferes with the body's neuromuscular system and produces a sensation of pain.
St Helena Police have had CEDs since 2016 with the devices previously being held at the Police Station. However, with a rise in confrontational situations which have put the public, subjects and Police Officers at increased risk, the Chief of Police has introduced a Standing Authority for Officers to carry CEDs full time. This decision will be reviewed in six months.
Chief of Police David Lynch said:
Having the device at the Police Station when you are trying to arrest an individual who is/has been extremely violent is no longer efficient. Our Police Officers attend a variety of incidents on a daily basis and in many cases, especially in emergency incidents, the exact nature of the incident or the threat is not clear until the Officers arrive at the scene.
Recently, there have been serious incidents where weapons have been carried or used. These weapons have included machetes, a CED, and an iron bar. If Officers had been carrying CEDs at the time of these incidents, they could have been used to deal with the offender, and reduce the risk to all involved.
Previously, Officers only had the metal asp/extendable baton to deal with a person who is armed or violent. The baton has its limitations as the officer has to get very close to the subject and when it's used there is a high likelihood of significant damage to bones and joints or the head. PAVA spray is available but has limitations in its effectiveness, range and accuracy. The CED on the other hand is able to be used from a distance of 21 feet, which reduces the threat to the officer, the subject and any victim.
Chief Firearms Instructor Mark Coombe explains how a CED works:
The CED sends two probes into the person which incapacitates them for several seconds, allowing the officer to take control of the person and disarm them. It's recognised that the use of CED is likely to cause less long-term harm than an asp/extendable baton. In many cases the simple act of drawing the CED and showing it to the person is enough to prevent further violence.
All Police Officers have been trained in the use of CED. Officers attending a scene will need to rationalise their decision to deploy the device, using the National Decision Model.
The St Helena Taser Policy will also ensure the device is used correctly and proportionately and all deployments and discharges will be reviewed by the training staff and Criminal Investigations operational support team.
If an officer deploys the CED (this would include simply drawing it from the holster) then a full report will be required, and the officer will need to justify their actions according to their training. In addition, data from the CED's use can be electronically downloaded, so that their use can be monitored.
Police Inspector Julianne Stevens concluded:
It's important to recognise that St Helena is predominantly a law abiding and considerate Island community, however there are also those on the Island, or who may visit the Island, who are prepared to break the law and target the vulnerable. This includes offenders being prepared to use violence or weapons to further their own aims.
It's important that the Police have the best equipment and training to be able to deal with those that seek to hurt others in our community, whilst protecting our Police Officers who put themselves at risk every day to protect us all.
St Helena Police will be conducting an Education and Awareness Roadshow throughout the Island to provide further information and demonstrations on the carrying and use of CEDs. Dates, venues and times will be advertised shortly.
Source: St Helena Government