Friday, November 30, 2007

Nah! No conflict of interest there.

One has to wonder exactly what it is about Dr. James Cairns, a public servant, that TASER International, a private corporation, finds so attractive that they keep inviting him to speak at conferences and seminars that they host.
Taser International and another company closely linked to the manufacturer have paid the way for Ontario's deputy chief coroner to lecture at their conferences on the phenomenon of "excited delirium," a medically unrecognized term that the company often cites as a reason people die after being tasered.

James Cairns, one of the country's most high-profile coroners, who publicly advocates the use of the stun gun, has become one of the top Canadian experts Taser officials turn to for help shoring up public support for their products in times of crisis. Since the death of Robert Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant, at Vancouver International Airport last month, Taser has repeatedly urged journalists to contact Dr. Cairns for his pro-taser views.

Dr. Cairns has recently given seminars at two conferences hosted by Taser International - one in July in Chicago and another last year in Las Vegas.

I'm not going to question the good doctor's intentions however, he is another of the crowd that insists on using the term "Excited Delirium" as though it has some medical meaning. It is not accepted by the medical community as a disease, syndrome or contributing cause of death of anybody, anywhere on the planet. It is a law enforcement construct intended to replace the term "in-custody death".

It is also being used to camouflage the possibility that TASER® stun guns are a contributing factor in the death of suspects.

TASER International's purpose for holding these conferences is to shore up support for their product. In that sense they are little more than a marketing effort and Cairns appears to be assisting them in that regard.

Perhaps we should look at what Cairns said back in 2004 when he was promoting TASER International's weapons to the Toronto Police Services Board. (Emphasis mine)

"I am absolutely convinced tasers will save lives instead of taking lives. And I hope some day, if I am in the position, please taser me before you shoot me," Dr. Cairns told the board at its meeting.
Agreed! I doubt you'll find too many people who would disagree with that take on the use of TASER® weapons. In short, it is a level of force to which police will resort in place of using a firearm. Unfortunately, we have police resorting to the use of this weapon well before they would consider drawing their lethal sidearm. For one thing, they might possibly have to explain shooting an unarmed person - something that should happen each and every time a TASER® electroshock weapon is used.

Using a weapon, which is listed as a Prohibited Firearm in the Criminal Code of Canada, to gain compliance of a person who presents no lethal threat needs to be placed under careful review. Dr. Cairns, for all his knowledge and expertise, should be welcoming such reviews rather than appearing at TASER International marketing events.

Dr. Cairns might also want to tell his next TASER International hosted conference how many people who supposedly suffered from "Excited Delirium" actually survived.

Or is it only a condition found in dead people?

Hat tip reader Colin

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