Minister of Justice Ögmundur Jónasson, speaking in parliament last Friday, has officially said that police will not be able to get tasers, as they have long requested.
Alternate MP for the Leftist-Green Party Auður Lilja Erlingsdóttir asked the minister in parliament what his position was on the police using a weapon that “produces a current of 50,000 volts and causes great pain, besides it being known that such a device damages the muscles and nervous system.”
Ögmundur replied that in looking into what tasers do, he has come to the conclusion that “there is no reason for tasers to be put to use.”
When asked furthermore what the government position was on the police being armed, the minister replied that “police weaponry should be limited”, and that “it is important that the regulations on police weaponry be clearer, but in harmony with the needs of the police force.”
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 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.
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