Use of force by Regina police up in 2020: Police data
REGINA -- The reported uses of force by the Regina Police Service (RPS) increased by 19.2 per cent in 2020, according to a Board of Police Commissioners report.
In 2020, RPS said there were 329 reported use of force incidents, up from 276 in 2019. The report also states “variations in [police] uses of force appear to have a relationship to the changing nature of crime, drugs and firearms in the community.”
“We do see small fluctuations year to year, and it really has to do with the types of calls that our officers are responding to, and what they need to do to resolve that call in a safe manner,” said RPS chief Evan Bray. “Are there weapons present? And we know that we seized the largest number of firearms in our history last year.”
Bray said if an officer uses force in a situation, it’s because the situation has unfolded in a way that there is a risk of injury or death to someone in the call, and an officer is trying to resolve the situation as safely as possible. Bray said there are several factors that impact whether or not an officer uses force, some of which were indicative of last year’s rise in cases.
“Drugs, alcohol, firearms, maybe to a lesser degree, gang activity in the city,” said Bray.
Types of force used include: physical force, aerosol spray, Conducted Energy Weapon, also known as a taser, pointing or discharging a firearm, canine deployment, vehicle immobilization tactics and restraint chair.
Bray said the increase in 2020 can be partly attributed to a rise in officers using tire deflation to stop a vehicle in pursuit.
“The number of evade police files has significantly increased over the last couple of years,” he said. “And most times, those investigations also include other types of high risk crime. There’s often firearms present and drugs are often involved as well.”
All reported use of force incidents are reviewed by RPS’s use of force board. The board looks at each incident, then determines if the use of force was appropriate and compliant with policy, and if any further training, disciplinary action or criminal charges are warranted.
The Saskatchewan Police College trains all police recruits in use of defence and control tactics, and de-escalation techniques. After recruits graduate, individual police agencies are responsible for continuing to educate officers on the various use of fo1.5441519rce options.
ONE YEAR SINCE GEORGE FLOYD’S MURDER
The use of force report comes exactly one year after George Floyd died in Minneapolis, when then-police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.
Floyd’s death sparked anti-black racism protests around the world, and here in Saskatchewan. Bray said the RPS has responded by focusing on building relationships in the community.
“We were invited, not only to participate, but speak at those rallies. One of the main organizers is now a member of our board of police commissioners,” Bray said. “We’ve had incredible meetings with Black in Sask., found great ways to collaborate (and) do additional training.”