The use of tasers by SA Police officers has soared since rules were changed a decade ago to allow use of the weapons against unarmed people.
The figures have prompted a new warning tasers must be treated “like the potentially deadly weapon they are”, but SAPOL claims each use is reviewed and the increase was “not unexpected”.
Data released to the state Greens under FOI showed police discharged Electronic Control Devices (ECDs), commonly referred to as tasers, 17 times in 2013-14.
The figure steadily increased to 95 in 2021-22 and dropped to 85 in the latest financial year.
The number of times the laser of the taser was pointed, but the weapon was not discharged, rose from 30 in 2013-14 to 185 in 2021-22, before the 2022-23 figure showed a drop to 166.
The number of accidental discharges fell from 15 a decade ago to zero last year.
In 2014, a changed policy allowed police to carry tasers and use them against unarmed offenders in high-risk situations.
Prior to that, tasers were kept in the boot of patrol cars and could be removed only if police were confronted by an armed offender.
Greens MLC Tammy Franks said there has been a “near fivefold” increase in taser usage since the guidelines changed.
“There are very few safe places that a stun gun can be fired without having a real risk of serious injury or death,” she said.
“Given they have the power of 50,000 volts, tasers need to be treated like the potentially deadly weapon they are.”
In a statement, SAPOL said the 2014 amendment authorised use of ECDs “in circumstances where police officers were justifiably concerned about a risk of serious injury to themselves or others”.
It said, after the policy was changed and ECDs were issued to more officers including traffic and solo patrols, it was “not unexpected to see an increase in the use”.
“SAPOL quite rightly has considerable measures in place to review the use of ECD,” it said.
SAPOL said specific data on how ECDs improve safety is not collected.
“Anecdotally, policy changes to authorise the use of ECD where police officers are justifiably concerned about a risk of serious injury to themselves or others, does provide an effective measure to safely apprehend a person who is displaying violence, limiting physical restraint interventions,” the statement said.
Police Minister Joe Szakacs said police officers were highly trained to use ECDs to keep themselves and the community safe.
Which didn’t stop two SAPOL thugs from pepper-spraying and tasering a Huntington’s patient at a residential care facility in October. The footage was so disturbing that SAPOL initially threatened media outlets from airing it, then later released only a partial segment of the officer’s disgusting behaviour.
SA Police taser use soars in 10 years since unarmed target rule. The Advertiser.