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Friday, April 23, 2010

Edmonton police taser use down by 58 per cent last year

April 23, 2010
CBC News

Taser stun gun use by Edmonton Police was down dramatically in 2009 compared to the previous year, the Edmonton Police Commission was told Thursday.

"In the stun mode … there was a decrease in use of 58 per cent," Training Insp. Bob Hassel said in his presentation to commissioners at their monthly meeting.

The stun gun figures are contained in the 2009 report into the department's use of force, which also outlines the number of times officers used guns, pepper spray and batons.

New rules governing the use of Tasers introduced last year may be the reason for the decrease, Hassel said.

However, while Taser use is down, the use of batons is up by 46 per cent, although Hassel said the number of incidents is relatively small.

"Although the increase looks quite high, there were 41 deployments in 2008, compared to 60 deployments in 2009."

The number of times police pointed guns at people increased last year: from 351 in 2008 to 389 in 2009, an increase of 11 per cent.

Edmonton police also increased the size of their force by 9.8 percent over the same time period.

"There's a greater likelihood that we're going to have more interactions with people, a greater likelihood we're going to be on scene a lot quicker, therefore, a greater likelihood of physical control techniques being utilized," Hassel said.

Edmonton police commissioner Brian Gibson says he is pleased with the overall trend in the report but adds the commission will do a follow-up.

"We will ask the service on any areas we have a concern with. We will be questioning the service about those," he said.

Gibson believes the overall drop in incidents shows training is working.

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