April 18, 2019 11:28 am

Use of force by Saskatoon police officers down in 2018

WATCH ABOVE: The use of force by Saskatoon police officers declined in 2018.

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The use of force by Saskatoon police officers went down in 2018.

There was a 3.4 percent reduction in force used by officers in last year compared to 2017, according to a report issued Wednesday to the Saskatoon board of police commissioners.

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Police said the decrease is due to officer training, and using the air support unit and canine units while chasing suspects.

READ MORE: Taser useless on alleged shoplifter trying to escape Saskatoon police at hospital

Board chair Darlene Brander said the commission wants to ensure effective de-escalation techniques are used by officers when dealing with the public.

“What we do want to ensure that when the police service interacts with the public, that it’s done in such a manner that safety is kept top of mind for all,” Brander said.

Brander said the report is a good indicator for the commission as they continue to monitor police response and public interaction.

“We want to see where that trend line is going and whether or not we need to look at more resources and or training, or changes in policy,” she said.

READ MORE: Saskatoon police pepper spray man after Taser ineffective

Over 80,000 calls for service were received in 2018, and only 253 of those had officers using force, police said.

There was, however, a substantial increase in the use of restraint chairs to prevent prisoners from harming themselves in custody.

Saskatoon police Chief Troy Cooper blamed that on rising drug use.

“(They) come in in an intoxicated state, maybe on drugs, and they’re very difficult to de-escalate,” Cooper said.

“For some of those people, if they’re harming themselves restraining them temporarily is the safest thing for us to do.”

READ MORE: Saskatoon police officer injured during arrest

People can be held in restraints for up to two hours, according to police policy.

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