Hamilton police deploying Tasers more, using other kinds of force less, reveals 2014 use of force report

News Apr 24, 2015 by Laura Lennie hamiltonnews.com

Hamilton police are using Tasers more and other types of force less during arrests, according to the service’s 2014 use of force report.

Officers used Tasers – also known as conducted energy weapons or CEWs – 64 times in 2014 up from 41 in 2013 – shows the report, which was presented to the police services board on Thursday.

Report presenter Sgt. Jon Alsbergas said though Taser usage was up last year, it was not related to a $1-million expansion of CEWs to front-line officers last September.

Previously, there was limited use of Tasers with only supervisors and members of special tactical teams able to deploy them. The Hamilton Police Service was the first service to put CEWs on the front line after the province approved their broader use in August 2013.

“Our CEW use, though it did increase, remained fairly constant throughout the year,” Alsbergas told board members. “There was no immediate spike due to our front-line expansion in September. What will be interesting, now that we’ve gone to complete front-line implementation, 2015 will be the first full year that we’re going to get an idea of, ‘OK, how much does the usage of this device or weapon really impact around use of force.’”

In 48 of the 64 cases in 2014, Tasers were used on “display mode,” meaning they weren’t discharged or fired.

Tasers were most often used to “apprehend/control emotionally disturbed/mentally ill persons” at 24 times, compared to just seven times where a person either had or was thought to have had a weapon.

Other cases involving Tasers included general arrests of “assaultive suspects” at 20 times and disturbances, usually related to Liquor Licence Act violations, including one paid-duty incident, at 13 times.

In 26 of the cases, the “subjects were displaying or had immediate access to a weapon.”

While the deployment of Tasers was up last year, cases of officers striking subjects with batons dipped to three from seven in 2013. Incidents of punching, kicking, elbowing, kneeing and grounding techniques also dropped to 15 from 32 in 2013.

Officers fired their guns in 47 cases in 2014, each time to euthanize animals. There were 62 incidents in 2013.

They pointed their firearms in 100 cases after 99 incidents in 2013 and drew their handguns in 23 cases following 22 incidents in 2013.

There were 238 reported cases of use of force in 2014 – the same as in 2013 – which is lower than the 15-year average of 262 incidents per year.

Board chair Lloyd Ferguson said the $1-million expansion of CEWs to front-line officers last year was a “big decision.”

“I think we got value from it,” he said. “The only time their weapon was pulled, their gun, was to euthanize animals – it wasn’t pulled once for a human being – but you see the spike in Tasers on the other side, so that’s the judgment that’s being used by the front-line officers. I think we made the right decision driving the car through the rear view mirror in how it came together.” 

Hamilton police deploying Tasers more, using other kinds of force less, reveals 2014 use of force report

News Apr 24, 2015 by Laura Lennie hamiltonnews.com

Hamilton police are using Tasers more and other types of force less during arrests, according to the service’s 2014 use of force report.

Officers used Tasers – also known as conducted energy weapons or CEWs – 64 times in 2014 up from 41 in 2013 – shows the report, which was presented to the police services board on Thursday.

Report presenter Sgt. Jon Alsbergas said though Taser usage was up last year, it was not related to a $1-million expansion of CEWs to front-line officers last September.

Previously, there was limited use of Tasers with only supervisors and members of special tactical teams able to deploy them. The Hamilton Police Service was the first service to put CEWs on the front line after the province approved their broader use in August 2013.

“Our CEW use, though it did increase, remained fairly constant throughout the year,” Alsbergas told board members. “There was no immediate spike due to our front-line expansion in September. What will be interesting, now that we’ve gone to complete front-line implementation, 2015 will be the first full year that we’re going to get an idea of, ‘OK, how much does the usage of this device or weapon really impact around use of force.’”

In 48 of the 64 cases in 2014, Tasers were used on “display mode,” meaning they weren’t discharged or fired.

Tasers were most often used to “apprehend/control emotionally disturbed/mentally ill persons” at 24 times, compared to just seven times where a person either had or was thought to have had a weapon.

Other cases involving Tasers included general arrests of “assaultive suspects” at 20 times and disturbances, usually related to Liquor Licence Act violations, including one paid-duty incident, at 13 times.

In 26 of the cases, the “subjects were displaying or had immediate access to a weapon.”

While the deployment of Tasers was up last year, cases of officers striking subjects with batons dipped to three from seven in 2013. Incidents of punching, kicking, elbowing, kneeing and grounding techniques also dropped to 15 from 32 in 2013.

Officers fired their guns in 47 cases in 2014, each time to euthanize animals. There were 62 incidents in 2013.

They pointed their firearms in 100 cases after 99 incidents in 2013 and drew their handguns in 23 cases following 22 incidents in 2013.

There were 238 reported cases of use of force in 2014 – the same as in 2013 – which is lower than the 15-year average of 262 incidents per year.

Board chair Lloyd Ferguson said the $1-million expansion of CEWs to front-line officers last year was a “big decision.”

“I think we got value from it,” he said. “The only time their weapon was pulled, their gun, was to euthanize animals – it wasn’t pulled once for a human being – but you see the spike in Tasers on the other side, so that’s the judgment that’s being used by the front-line officers. I think we made the right decision driving the car through the rear view mirror in how it came together.” 

Hamilton police deploying Tasers more, using other kinds of force less, reveals 2014 use of force report

News Apr 24, 2015 by Laura Lennie hamiltonnews.com

Hamilton police are using Tasers more and other types of force less during arrests, according to the service’s 2014 use of force report.

Officers used Tasers – also known as conducted energy weapons or CEWs – 64 times in 2014 up from 41 in 2013 – shows the report, which was presented to the police services board on Thursday.

Report presenter Sgt. Jon Alsbergas said though Taser usage was up last year, it was not related to a $1-million expansion of CEWs to front-line officers last September.

Previously, there was limited use of Tasers with only supervisors and members of special tactical teams able to deploy them. The Hamilton Police Service was the first service to put CEWs on the front line after the province approved their broader use in August 2013.

“Our CEW use, though it did increase, remained fairly constant throughout the year,” Alsbergas told board members. “There was no immediate spike due to our front-line expansion in September. What will be interesting, now that we’ve gone to complete front-line implementation, 2015 will be the first full year that we’re going to get an idea of, ‘OK, how much does the usage of this device or weapon really impact around use of force.’”

In 48 of the 64 cases in 2014, Tasers were used on “display mode,” meaning they weren’t discharged or fired.

Tasers were most often used to “apprehend/control emotionally disturbed/mentally ill persons” at 24 times, compared to just seven times where a person either had or was thought to have had a weapon.

Other cases involving Tasers included general arrests of “assaultive suspects” at 20 times and disturbances, usually related to Liquor Licence Act violations, including one paid-duty incident, at 13 times.

In 26 of the cases, the “subjects were displaying or had immediate access to a weapon.”

While the deployment of Tasers was up last year, cases of officers striking subjects with batons dipped to three from seven in 2013. Incidents of punching, kicking, elbowing, kneeing and grounding techniques also dropped to 15 from 32 in 2013.

Officers fired their guns in 47 cases in 2014, each time to euthanize animals. There were 62 incidents in 2013.

They pointed their firearms in 100 cases after 99 incidents in 2013 and drew their handguns in 23 cases following 22 incidents in 2013.

There were 238 reported cases of use of force in 2014 – the same as in 2013 – which is lower than the 15-year average of 262 incidents per year.

Board chair Lloyd Ferguson said the $1-million expansion of CEWs to front-line officers last year was a “big decision.”

“I think we got value from it,” he said. “The only time their weapon was pulled, their gun, was to euthanize animals – it wasn’t pulled once for a human being – but you see the spike in Tasers on the other side, so that’s the judgment that’s being used by the front-line officers. I think we made the right decision driving the car through the rear view mirror in how it came together.”