Calgary police seek out ‘less lethal’ weapons for front-line officers

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WATCH: The Calgary Police Service wants to give officers more ‘less lethal’ options for dealing with offenders. Tracy Nagai has details on the plan, which was outlined at a Calgary Police Commission meeting – Nov 29, 2017

When it comes to taking down a hostile person, Calgary police say they face a shortage of tools to get the job done.

Conductive-energy weapons (CEW), more commonly known as Tasers, aren’t always effective and require officers to be within close range of a suspect.

“You are in range from eight to 12 feet of the subject in order to have an effective deployment,” said Calgary Police Service (CPS) chief Roger Chaffin. “When you’re so close to somebody and it goes poorly or the deployment doesn’t work well with the CEW, for instance, you think about what the difference of 12 feet is.”

“If it doesn’t work you are now toe-to-toe with somebody that you may have to transition very quickly to your lethal force option.”

LISTEN: Rob Breakenridge connects with Calgary Police Association President Les Kaminsky to learn about how viable non-lethal weapons can be in practice for policing. 

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And lethal force, while an option Chaffin said can still be the right call in some situations, isn’t something police take lightly.

“We’d like to at least present other options for incident commanders and members to say, ‘is there other ways to resolve this?'”

To fill the gap, the force is currently in the process of a request-for-proposal (RFP) to acquire ‘less lethal’ weapons which can be used by front-line officers.

While the CPS can’t say specifically what kind of ‘less lethal’ weapon they’re looking to acquire so as to not to prejudice the RFP process, examples of similar weapons used by other police forces include rubber bullets, wax bullets, and bean bag guns.

READ MORE: Canadian cops using new, less-lethal bullets

“What we’re talking about here are projectiles that we can launch,” Chaffin said. “They’re not a rifle, it’s not a handgun, it doesn’t have that kind of velocity.”

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Less lethal weapons are already in use by a number of police departments in Alberta including in Edmonton. The CPS tactical team also have access to this kind of weapon.

CPS policy, training curriculum and officer selection criteria are already drafted, and plans would see the first 80 officers trained in the use of the less lethal weapons by the end of 2018. Another 80 officers would be trained and deployed by the end of 2019.

The estimated cost for the implementation of the less lethal weapons is $360,000.

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