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January 18, 2009 permalink
Another case has come to light in which the police tasered a mother while taking her children. This time it was the RCMP in the Northwest Territories. The children were abused by watching domestic violence, not between husband and wife, but between mother and police.
Use of Taser in N.W.T. child apprehension questioned
Last Updated: Friday, January 16, 2009 | 3:26 PM CT, CBC News
An RCMP officer's use of a Taser last year on a Northwest Territories woman, while she was holding two young children on her lap, has a shelter worker criticizing the amount of force used in child apprehension cases.
The woman, who cannot be named, was jolted with the electic stun gun after she refused to hand her children over to child protection workers in Yellowknife in March 2008.
"I don't think they had sufficient cause to go in and apprehend," said Mira Hall of the Yellowknife-based Centre for Northern Families shelter, which is familiar with the woman's case.
"It's a long and difficult process for women to leave abusive situations," she added.
"I think that what that calls for, and what best practices would say, would be that women who are living in abusive relationship need help and support counselling. They don't need people busting in their doors and assaulting them."
Hall said that in some jurisdictions, social services workers have to apply for court permission in order to apprehend children.
The woman told CBC News earlier this week that she had two of her youngest children, aged one and five, sitting on her lap when a Yellowknife RCMP officer shocked her twice with the Taser.
Police said an RCMP investigation of the case, which was reviewed by Crown prosecutors in Whitehorse, concluded that the officer did not use excessive force in the Yellowknife incident.
"The safety and security of the worker, and of the children in the home, is a concern of ours and the RCMP," Dana Heide, the N.W.T.'s assistant deputy health and social services minister, told CBC News on Thursday.
"So the RCMP walk in and ensure that the worker is safe within the home, and assist us in any apprehension or any activity we may have within the home."
The woman told CBC News that social workers told her she could not have her children back unless she stayed away from their father, who is an alleged drug dealer.
The woman said she had split up with the children's father a year earlier, but he was in the house on the day police arrived.
She added her children were returned to her a month after the Taser incident, but added that her children remain scared as a result of what happened.
Hall said the children's exposure to such violence is an issue: "A child is witnessing RCMP members attacking their mother," she said.
Heide acknowledged that child apprehensions are often emotionally charged, and sometimes it may be necessary to expose children to violence at the hands of police.
"We do our best to mitigate that damage to the child, and we weigh the balance of protecting children in the longer term with the activities we have to take immediately," he said.