Police Commissioner Michael Matthews is warning residents that police officers have a right to defend themselves if they are attacked by residents.
The commissioner sounded the warning recently on 284 Media’s Cut Deep talk show, while addressing questions about two incidents involving the use of tasers by police officers. Back in April, video footage of the incidents were widely circulated on social media.
“Police officers are not punch[ing] bags. They are not there to be assaulted and my officers get assaulted a lot. I have a responsibility to give them the equipment to protect themselves, protect others around them and I hope that they will continue to use that wisely, effectively but proportionately to the threat that they face at the time,” Commissioner Matthews said.
He added that the police were authorised to use tasers seven years ago and two incidents in those seven years shows that they’ve not been abusing this method of enforcement.
While admitting that tasing is “not a pleasant thing”, Commissioner Matthews said it is better than the use of batons, pepper spray and guns.
“Look at some of the other options here. Do we start beating someone with a baton? Do we start putting pepper spray in people’s faces? Do we actually draw loaded guns on people? This is not America, that’s not how we do policing. This is the British policing model,” Commissioner Matthews explained.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner said the two incidents involving tasers earlier this year were thoroughly investigated and the officers involved were retrained on the use of tasers as a means of enforcement.
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