More Tasers for Ballarat police

BALLARAT police will receive more Tasers as part of a $13.5 million state government rollout.

Police Minister Kim Wells yesterday announced that 29 24-hour-a-day regional police stations would receive a share of 580 new Tasers.

Police officers on two-person general duties, highway patrol, special operations groups and critical incident response teams will all now carry the electroshock weapons.

Mr Wells said it followed successful Taser trials in six major centres since 2010.

Tasers were introduced in Ballarat last year, and were used twice in February this year.

The first incident occurred on February 2 when a man was threatening self-harm, and the second was on February 12 when a teenager armed with a knife refused to co-operate with police.

“Police are often called to respond to violent and dangerous situations involving people who are affected by drugs or alcohol, or who are otherwise at risk of causing harm to police, the community and themselves,” Mr Wells said.

“This announcement will provide regional police officers with modern equipment and an alternative option to firearms, helping them to manage these complex situations and to minimise the risk of serious injury and fatalities.

“The use of Tasers has so far been restricted to Victoria Police specialist units and selected trial regional centres, but there is a clear need for police on general duties to have their own access,” Mr Wells said.

Tasers were first trialled in Bendigo and Morwell in July 2010, and extended to Traralgon and Moe in 2012 and Geelong and Ballarat last year.

Mr Wells said the use of Tasers was subject to stringent controls, which included reviewing all incidents where a Taser had been used.

Police officers will be required to undertake training to ensure weapons are employed correctly.

fiona.henderson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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