The debate over whether or not Icelandic police should have tasers is apparently far from over, as the state police force is once again calling for their use, albeit on an experimental level.
About one year ago, Social Democrat MP encouraged then Minister of Justice Ragna Árnadóttir to not allow police to use tasers, as the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police had requested at that time. MP Þórunn Sveinbjarnardóttir pointed out that over 300 people have died in the United States in the past year due to injuries received from tasers, a supposedly less-than-lethal weapon. In the US, training of the use of tasers, and when they can be used, is often the responsibility of individual states or even individual police stations.
The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police said then that they wanted special forces police to carry such weapons; not regular patrol police. As it is, policemen in Iceland do not carry tasers or firearms, but do have pepper spray. Only the “Viking Squad” – a special forces team, comparable to America’s SWAT – carry firearms.
The matter lost steam and seemed to have been forgotten, until now.
The National Commissioner released a statement recently, Fréttablaðið reports, that while they do not believe patrol police should carry tasers, they would like to see the Viking Squad use them on a trial basis. They emphasize that violent crime has actually reduced in Iceland, and that patrol police carrying tasers would likely decrease public trust in the force. However, as an experimental weapon in the seldom-employed Viking Squad’s arsenal, the report says, it could prove effective.
No formal decision has yet been taken on the matter, which ultimately lies with the Minister of Justice and Human Rights.