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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Weapon use down among Cobourg (Ontario) officers

March 2, 2011

COBOURG -- Local police are using their hands more than their weapons when dealing with "resistant/assaultive" individuals, Cobourg's police service board members learned last week.

For the past two years no officers of the Cobourg Police Service have used conducted-energy weapons, commonly referred to as tasers, Police Chief Paul Sweet reported. Town police officers also didn't discharge their guns in the course of dealing with the public during 2009 and 2010, nor during the same two-year period did they use impact weapons referred to as batons, according to the annual Use of Force report the chief gave on Feb. 24 to the Cobourg Police Service Board.

A Use of Force report must be submitted by each officer when a firearm is drawn in public, is pointed at any person, when a weapon is used on another person, when a taser is pointed at someone or when physical force results in an injury requiring medical attention.

Intermediate weapons are the "most effective when dealing with actively resistant/assaultive subjects," Sweet's report states. Intermediate weapons mean physical activity such as an officer using his hands to choke, hold or restrain a person, Sweet explained during an interview. There were four reportable incidents in 2010 and three in 2009.

At the same time as the reported use of guns, tasers and batons has declined, the total number of use-of-force officer reports increased from 10 in 2009 to 13 in 2010. In addition, the number of suspects using weapons themselves during these incidents increased 40% between 2009 and 2010. There were two incidents of suspects using weapons in 2009 and six in 2010.

Five officers and 24 suspects sustained injuries in 2009, according to the use-of-force report, but last year there were no injuries at all.

Aerosol (pepper spray) wasn't used at all last year and only once the year before, according to the chief's report.

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