Police using 'minimum' force

Southern District police officers are resolving incidents with a ''minimum application of force'', district commander Superintendent Andrew Coster says.

Police tactical options, including the use of empty-hand tactics (physical force), handcuffs, pepper spray, baton, dogs, Taser and firearms have been detailed in a report.

The 2013 report was released last week and shows, for the Southern District, that for every eight events where tactical options were used, one would involve a taser.

Last year, a Taser was deployed 39 times by Southern District officers, the second-lowest of the country's dozen police districts.

Of those 39 events, a Taser was presented 12 times, with laser painting used 22 times, while a Taser was discharged five times.

''When used appropriately, the Taser continues to be a very effective tactical option in de-escalating dangerous and violent situations where previously, in some situations, firearms may have been the alternative,'' Supt Coster told the Otago Daily Times.

The Southern District had the lowest rate of Taser deployment in the country with 34 per 10,000 apprehensions.

Use of any tactical option was driven by the offender's action and the officer, who chose the most appropriate option while minimising risk to themselves, the public and the subject, he said.

Supt Coster noted the most common tactical options used were those that involved the least amount of force - both in the Southern District and nationally.

In the Southern District, the use of empty hand tactics (physical force) accounted for 119 tactical options reporting events, followed by 112 for handcuffs and 57 for OC spray, he said.

''The overall picture created by the data is that Southern District staff appear to be resolving incidents with a minimum application of force which is our primary objective.

''We see many examples of our staff demonstrating great professionalism and skill in difficult situations and they are able to resolve many of those without the use of force.''

hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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