Wimmera police stations get stun guns

THREE Wimmera police stations will be equipped with stun guns.

The State Government has announced a $13.5-million roll-out of tasers to all 24-hour police stations in regional Victoria.

Twenty-nine police stations will receive a share of the 580 tasers.

Among them are Horsham, Ararat and Stawell police stations.

It will be the first time any Wimmera police station has been equipped with tasers.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services Kim Wells said tasers had previously been restricted to specialist Victoria Police units and selected trial regional centres.

“But there is a clear need for police on general duties to have their own access,” he said.

Victoria Police is unsure when the tasers will be rolled out.

Horsham Inspector Trevor Ashton said the equipment would provide front-line members with another tactical response option.

“When we go to a high-risk incident, members do their own risk assessments,” he said.

“Every threat presents its own issues.’’

He said tasers might be considered when police or members of the public were confronted with ‘an obvious and imminent threat’ of serious injury or death.

“Tasers are on the serious end of the scale – this piece of equipment is not taken lightly,” he said.

“Members are extremely aware of the use, function and capabilities of tasers.”

There had been occasions within the past 12 months when members might have contemplated drawing a taser, if one had been available to them.

“We’ve had to respond to mental instability, drug-fuelled psychotic episodes and people armed with weapons,” Mr Ashton said.

“It was only through the lead-up work that these situations have resulted in peaceful resolutions.

“There is a lot of training that goes into the lead-up to a situation and how police respond.”

Regional operations Deputy Commissioner Tim Cartwright said police at the 29 stations receiving tasers would receive two days of extra training about the devices and relevant policies. 

Victoria Police investigates every instance of taser use.

“We have seen a continuing decline in injuries to members and people we come into contact with who are at risk or putting themselves at risk, while at the same time the number of confrontations has increased quite markedly,” Mr Cartwright said.

Tasers have been trialled in seven regional centres since July 2010, including Ballarat and Geelong.

Since then, police have unholstered their tasers 59 times.

“We’ve only actually fired the devices seven times in the past four years,” Mr Cartwright said.

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