Regina police use of force incidents dropped in 2021 from previous year: report

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Regina police Chief Evan Bray says it's not clear why the number of use of force incidents was down in 2021 from the previous year. (Trent Peppler/CBC - image credit)
Regina police Chief Evan Bray says it's not clear why the number of use of force incidents was down in 2021 from the previous year. (Trent Peppler/CBC - image credit)

Regina Police Service officers used force less often in 2021 than in the previous year, according to a report tabled at Regina city hall Tuesday.

There were 282 use of force incidents last year, compared to 329 cataloged in 2020 and outlined in the report presented at a  Board of Police Commissioners meeting Tuesday — a drop of 14 per cent.

The use of force incidents last year ranged from a police officer pointing a gun during an incident to using a neck restraint to subdue a subject.

Regina police Chief Evan Bray said it's unclear why the number of incidents was down from the previous year, but he acknowledged it could go up again next year.

"The subject's behaviour often dictates the level of force that's used. But we also know the police officer's behaviour can also escalate a situation or de-escalate a situation, depending on where we go."

Bray said the police service provides extensive training for recruits and officers on how best to de-escalate a situation without the use of force.

"I can't promise you that next year you're going to see another decrease in use of force. It's very much dependant on the situations as they unfold."

The vast majority of use of force incidents last year — 253 — were deemed a Level 1 incident, meaning it was considered appropriate and compliant with policy.

A further 29 incidents were listed as Level 2. That means the use of force was deemed appropriate, but less than fully compliant with policy and that coaching or training was provided.

None of the incidents in 2021 were listed as Level 3 or Level 4, which would mean force wasn't appropriate and either disciplinary action or charges would be laid against the police officer.

Research project will focus on arrests

Bray said the police service is starting a research project in the coming weeks to collect information from people detained by police.

Researchers will ask those people a list of questions, including what led to their arrest and what kind of actions, on both their part and the police, could have de-escalated the situation.

"We'll have some data and some information based on this project we're doing with our people in detention over the next few weeks," Bray said.

In addition to the use of force statistics, the report submitted to council said there was an 11.5 per cent rise in property crimes in April 2022 compared with the same month last year.

Crimes against people dropped by 9.5 per cent in April compared to that period last year, the report said.

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