By Trevor Busch
Use of force reports were up for the Taber Police Service in 2018, but this accounts for only a fraction of the contact the public has with police throughout the year, most of which does not involve any use of control tactics.
The 2018 TPS Use of Force Report will be submitted to the Solicitor General (Director of Law Enforcement) and is used to determine if there are provincial gaps in training, best practices, or changes that need to be made to the Reasonable Officer Response Model.
Control tactics reports (30) have risen significantly in comparison to previous years, including 2017 (15), 2015 (21), 2014 (14) and 2013 (17). It was noted that nine of the reports in 2018 were linked to other control tactics reports associated with the same incident.
“That would be a case where two officers both had to use force on the same person during the same incident,” said Sr. Cst. Tim Johnson at the Feb. 20 meeting of the Taber Municipal Police Commission.
Officer responses that were considered effective included verbal direction (4), control instruments (4), empty hand – soft (10), empty hand – hard (15), O.C. spray (1), CEW displayed (2), CEW laser aimed (2), sock round displayed (1). Officer response that was ineffective included verbal direction (25), empty hand – soft (8), empty hand – hard (2), and CEW laser aimed only (1).
Force occurred in initial contact (13), while placing under arrest (16), transporting (1), and the cell block (1).
“Another thing to consider is we have a few hundred people in cells every year, and we don’t have a few hundred use of force reports,” continued Johnson. “It’s quite rare that members have to use force.”
For firearms or lethal force, effective response was registered in two incidents, including pistol – low ready (1), and pistol – fired animal (1). There were no uses in this area in 2018 considered to be ineffective.
In describing the actions of subjects, throughout the year officers dealt with cooperative subjects (3), low-level resisters (2), high-level resisters (9), and assaultive (15). The number of assaultive subjects has increased from three in 2017, while the number of subjects perceived as being high-level resisters was also up from two.
“The increase in assaultive subjects is a concern,” stated Johnson in his report. “However, this increase has not resulted in a correlated increase of injury to subjects or officers. This shows that members used force effectively in order to protect themselves and the public, but also due to the low amount of injury to subjects the use of force appears to be on the lower end of the spectrum.”
There was no injury to subjects in 22 incidents, while six individuals suffered minor injury not requiring treatment.
One incident would involve injury requiring treatment due to broken glass at the scene. There were three incidents of injuries to subjects in 2017.
“That one, the guy actually fell on a window that a person broke,” said Johnson. “A person broke a window, and it turned into a use of force, and he fell down on the glass. But it was because of the use of force why he fell.”
Officers themselves suffered only two minor injuries not requiring treatment, and there was no visible injury in 28 incidents. Thirteen bystanders to various incidents would also remain unharmed.
The report also collates the number of Control Tactics Reports associated with each officer, but their identities have been redacted. Five officers were each involved in two incidents, two were each involved in four, followed by another officer with five and the last with seven.
“He has not consistently had the highest number of use of force reports in previous years,” stated Johnson in his report.
Following discussion, the commission voted unanimously to accept the 2018 Taber Police Service Use of Force Report as information.