Hamilton police reveal 10-year high in use of force incidents through annual report

Hamilton police have confirmed a 71-year-old hit by a school bus on Dec. 14, 2021 has died in hospital as a result of the injuries sustained in the incident. Global News

Hamilton police will reveal a 10-year high in use of force (UOF) incidents when the service presents an annual report at a board meeting on Thursday.

The study shows 431 UOF occasions in 2020, 33 more than the 398 in 2019. The number is 85 more than the 10-year average of 346.

“In 25 incidents, more than one UOF option was used by an individual officer,” the report said. “This number decreased from 59 incidents in 2019.”

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The filing is the first with changes implemented by the Ministry of the Solicitor in 2020 requiring officers to submit a full UOF report anytime a conductive energy weapon (CEW) is removed from a holster in public.

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With the alteration, reports from previous years were adjusted to include CEW displays.

A use of force study from Hamilton police is reporting a ten-year high in incidents for 2020. Hamilton Police

Prior to the addition of CEW’s, typical UOF criteria included the drawing of or discharge a handgun in the presence of a member of the public, use of another weapon on a person not with the service, physical force resulting in injury to another, a police dog bite or the application of force with a horse.

Pointing of a firearm and the display of a CEW were the top UOF methods use by officers in the field last year with firearms having been discharged in 27 incidents.

Hamilton police reported a 10-year high in use of force incidents in 2020. The pointing of a firearm and display of a conductive energy weapon were the top methods use by officers in the field last year. Hamilton Police Service

The discharge of firearms did decline year over year by one incident but remained generally flat compared to numbers from 2019 and 2018 when there were 28 incidents consecutively.

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The 2020 number was significantly lower than the 62 reported in 2013. The 10-year average for discharge firearms is 35 incidents per year.

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The euthanizing of animals was the most common incident in which a firearm was discharged by an officer, which happened 25 times in 2020.

Incidents in which a firearm was pointed at a person is also at a ten-year high at 185 with 81 of those the a result of a high-risk search warrant or arrests conducted by the Emergency Response Unit (ERU).

The use of CEW’s have been on the rise over the past 10 years with just 22 recorded incidents in 2011 compared to the 139 in 2020. However, not all officers carried CEW’s prior to 2014.

In only 52 of the 139 incidents was the CEW actually fired. In 87 other incidents it was used as a show of force for de-escalation.

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Of the UOF reports from officers that detailed a call type, weapons calls were the common incidents requiring use of force by officers in 2020.

There were 136 reported weapon related incidents that required UOF.

Of the 431 UOF reports submitted in 2020, the highest monthly total was in August in which 62 incidents were recorded. July had the lowest, just 19.

The use of force report is based on reports filed by officers in accordance to the Ontario Police Services Act Regulation 926 Sec. 14.5(1) which mandates officers to submit reports when a particular use of force option is utilized.

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