ORILLIA, ON — Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers got a gift of their own at the end of 2013 and it’s no toy. They are now allowed to carry and use Tasers, also known as stunt guns or conductive energy weapons (CEWs).
In fact, OPP officers have started training this January to learn how to use their new intermediary weapons.
“Effective December 23 of last year, any OPP officer that has been trained will be permitted to carry a CEW for operational purposes,” said Sgt. Peter Leon, central region media coordinator for the OPP.
That’s because on Nov. 25, the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) changed the Use of Force Guidelines for Tasers, which allowed for all front line officers to carry CEWs.
Before the change, the use of CEWs was limited to a select few of officers such as supervisors, tactical officers and armoured response team members, Leon explained.
“Every officer will undergo 12 hours of training followed by four hours of annual re-certification training,” Leon said. “Right now, we’re in the process of trying to locate enough CEWs for our members, so that will take a period of time. Right now, training is taking place and that way, when we do acquire the number of CEWs that we require, then we will start distributing them out to our detachments and our members.”
Nor are OPP officers the only ones getting CEWs. Various media reports state that police officers in Saskatchewan cities such as Saskatoon and Regina are also getting CEWs and beginning training in 2014.
A CEW is an intermediary weapon. That means that on the force scale it sits somewhere after the baton and the pepper spray equivalent, but before firearms.
“We’re pleased as an organization that we will be able to equip more of our members with these CEWs for the course of their duties with the primary focus of keeping our communities and our citizens safe,” Leon said. “The ability to use CEWs for more front line officers is going to be very beneficial because it provides an officer with an additional option to dealing with a situation they may be presented with.”
There are about 6,000 OPP officers in total and soon enough – though an exact date is not given – all will have CEWs on their person.
“Obviously our number one tool that we have is our ability to communicate. That being said, if there’s a situation where an officer has to defend himself or herself or a member of the public, they have to think through and make a determination on which use of force option that we carry is more suitable,” he said.
How it works
Tasers deliver a high voltage electrical shock that sends signals to the central nervous system, causing muscles to contract. As a result, the tasered individual is momentarily unable to move, giving the police officer time to conduct the arrest.
“Use of force is always the last resort for any police officer and CEW is part of a continuum that each and every officer has available to him and her. Again, officers are trained to match the use of force option with the level of risk that they’ve encountered,” Leon said.
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