The number of times the Regina Police Service (RPS) used force while responding to calls increased by 19.2 per cent from 2019 to 2020, according to a report from the Regina Board of Police Commissioners.
In 2019, officers used force 276 separate times. In 2020, there were 329 separate uses of force. The report noted that sometimes several uses of force can occur during one call.
“We do see small fluctuations year to year and it really has to do with the types of calls that our officers are responding to and what they need to do to resolve that call in a safe manner,” said Regina police chief Evan Bray.
According to the report, the variations of use of force “appear to have a relationship to the changing nature of crime” in the city.
Last year, Regina police seized the largest total number of firearms in its history, according to Bray.
Bray said guns, drugs, alcohol and gang activity are the types of high-risk factors that play a role in officers’ decisions to use force.
“If we have to use force … it’s because the situation has unfolded in a way that there is harm of serious injury or death to someone in that call,” Bray said.
“Sometimes it’s a member of the public, sometimes it’s the police officer and other times it could be the subject of the call.”
According to Bray, the use of force increase is largely due to a rise in vehicle immobilization tactics.
The use of vehicle immobilization tactics, often in the form of tire deflation, nearly doubled with RPS recording 61 incidents in 2020 compared to 34 in 2019.
Bray noted the number of evading police files “significantly increased over the last couple of years” and many of those investigations involve other types of high-risk crime.
The number of times officers pointed a firearm also increased in 2020, rising to a five-year high of 27. Tasers were deployed 26 times, which is up from 19 in 2019.
An RPS review board investigates each use of force incident. Each incident is then placed into one of four categories that vary from “appropriate and compliant with policy” to “inappropriate and criminal charges laid.”