(2018-02-16) CANADA: Taser can have calming effect: Sudbury police [[de-escalation]]

Published on February 16 2018 by admin

The Sudbury Star

Fewer cases of Greater Sudbury Police using force last year can be attributed, at least in part, to the sobering presence of Tasers and more training on how to defuse tense situations.

“Our officers here have access to simulation rooms and all sorts of options stressing de-escalation techniques,” said Chief Paul Pedersen, following a Thursday meeting of the Police Services Board at which an annual use-of-force report was presented.

“While it’s always been part of our use-of-force model, over the last few years de-escalation has really been emphasized and our training branch here has been a leader in it.”

The Ontario ombudsman even “highlighted the Greater Sudbury Police Service on its leading edge in promoting de-escalation” while putting together a provincial report in 2016, noted the chief.

Conducted energy weapons, as Tasers are properly called, have only been part of the police service’s arsenal for a couple of years, but “our officers are getting used to using them and one of the things you’ll see from this report is that simply displaying the CEW has an effect,” said Pedersen.

In 2017, there were 128 reports submitted regarding use of force by police, down from 147 in 2016.

Pedersen said officers always approach a situation involving a distraught or armed individual with the goal of avoiding injury to both themselves and the subject.

“If we can display a CEW and get compliance, then that means we don’t have to use oleoresin capsicum spray (otherwise known as OC or pepper spray) or batons or even hand techniques,” he said.

A Taser was by far the most common tool used in situations requiring force last year.

It was utilized 52 times, and deemed effective in 47 of those situations. Only 17 of these incidents involved the weapon being discharged, however, while in 34 cases simply displaying the Taser was enough to subdue the individual.

Hard and soft hand techniques (hard meaning a strike; soft meaning grabbing someone by the collar and the like) were used in 40 and 25 instances, respectively.

A firearm was drawn or pointed on 37 occasions in 2017 but discharged just three times — in each case to dispatch a suffering animal. One of those was a moose that had been struck by a vehicle. None, interestingly, was a bear.

That was a change from 2016, which was a bad year for berries and a bumper year for bear disturbances, resulting in at least a half-dozen bruins being shot by police.

Use of firearms was also down overall from 2016, when they were utilized in 55 situations.

There were also three fewer situations of subjects bearing edged weapons (typically a knife, but even a screwdriver would be considered this type of weapon) in 2017 compared to previous year.

Officers cited use of a firearm by a subject in a dozen incidents last year — one fewer than 2016 — while nine incidents featured a subject brandishing another type of weapon, including a rock, axe and wrench.

Pedersen said he is pleased to see use of force decreasing, but said it would be difficult to attribute the decline to just one factor, and it would be a mistake to get too comfortable about the trend.

“It’s always tough to jump to conclusions from one year to the next because all it really takes is one particularly violent situation or a series of violent occurrences and the statistics change from one year to next,” he said. “But I’m encouraged. You will see there wasn’t one time at all where a firearm was discharged that hurt any individual.”

http://www.thesudburystar.com/2018/02/16/taser-can-have-calming-effect-sudbury-police

 

 

 

 

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