Tasers safe, police say

Tasers are turning out to be one of the safest options for police needing to use force.

Reports published last week outlining the use of the tactical options available to officers - handcuffs, pepper spray, empty handed tactics, batons, dogs, tasers and firearms - show tasers have one of the lowest injury rates.

The weapons were used in 255 situations in the Auckland City District and discharged against 40 people since they were rolled out in 2010 until June 30 this year.

Four people were injured as a result of being tasered but none needed to be admitted to hospital.

Most people are injured when they fall to the ground after being tasered, national manager of operations Superintendent Barry Taylor says.

"Typical injuries include scrapes and abrasions that you would normally expect from falling to the ground.

"Police staff are however trained to provide the appropriate medical assistance following any taser incident," Mr Taylor says

The weapons are proving their worth in de-escalating situations, he says.

Nationally, they are only used once out of every seven times they are presented.

Eighty-seven people were bitten by police dogs resulting in 80 injuries during the same time.

But dog bites only happen in around 10 per cent of cases where they are deployed, Mr Taylor says.

"Police strive to ensure the least possible amount of force is used in resolving any situation but, as with any use of force, the level and nature of our response is always determined by the behaviour of the person and the circumstances at the time.

"Use of dogs remains an important tactical option for police in helping to track offenders and resolve crime in situations where other options may not be as effective," Mr Taylor says.

Empty-handed tactics, like pushing someone way or physical force without a weapon, were most the commonly used options, along with handcuffs and pepper spray.

Auckland City Harbour News