South Australian Police officers can now carry electronic control devices (ECDs) and are allowed to use them against unarmed people in some situations.
ECDs were rolled out to general duty officers in the metropolitan area in 2009 but strict guidelines meant they had to be left in the boot of their patrol car until the officer was involved in a high risk incident where a weapon was being used.
A change in policy effective today means officers can now carry an ECD on their belt, and offenders will no longer have to be armed before the device can be used.
Police said the situation must be high risk or involve an unarmed person exhibiting behaviour that cannot be safely resolved otherwise.
Deputy Commissioner Grant Stevens said the threshold for ECD use is very high.
“We have spent a considerable amount of time introducing the devices and training members on their appropriate use,” he said.
“Our strict policy has ensured consistency and clarity and as a result we have a culture where ECDs are considered only one available tactical option.
“We are now the last police jurisdiction to move towards personal carriage of ECDs – and our staged rollout out has been a very deliberate approach.”
Deputy Commissioner Stevens said since the introduction of ECDs, there had been no reported incidents of misuse.
“The decision to now allow personal carriage of ECDs has certainly been influenced by the operational safety needs of our officers,” he said.
“However, it needs to be understood that while an ECD is often a sound tactical option, in some circumstances a firearm may still need to be used.”
Police said all ECDs are fitted with infrared video cameras, meaning video and audio are automatically recorded every time the device is activated.
Morning news break – October 1