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The opposition-run city of Buenos Aires said Tuesday its police will start using stun guns, matching a similar move at Argentina’s national level as officials seek to address an election year preoccupation with crime.
The Argentinian capital will import 150 Tasers in the coming weeks, and officers will start using them in June or July once they have been appropriately trained, the city Minister of Safety and Justice Eugenio Burzaco told a local radio station.
The use of stun guns, which deliver an electric charge aimed at immobilizing a suspect, is widespread among police agencies in many other countries, including the United States and Brazil. In Argentina, human rights groups have raised concerns that their less-than-lethal label opens the door to police officers using them indiscriminately.
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Buenos Aires city police cross the street after a demonstration against a summit held by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States outside the hotel where leaders are meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd, File)
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The Buenos Aires city government is run by politicians in opposition to the national coalition of Argentinian President Alberto Fernández, who announced two months ago that national security forces would start using stun guns. Security Minister Aníbal Fernández said the more than a 100 stun guns will be used by specially trained elite forces.
Public opinion polls have shown that insecurity ranks close to inflation as a top concern of Argentinians ahead of the October general election, and politicians have made a priority of addressing crime.
In Buenos Aires, the stun guns will be used mostly in crowded places such as train stations or the city’s subway.
Burzaco also said they would be especially well-suited for situations when officers are under attack but hesitant to use firearms because the assailants are armed only with knives — a situation which has claimed the lives of police officers in the past.