News / Edmonton

Edmonton Police use of force down compared to 2015

Meanwhile, number of calls and arrests increases.

Metro file

Edmonton police used less force in the first half of 2016 than in the same period last year. 

Supt. Dave Christoffel of the Edmonton Police Service told the police commission Thursday that out of 128,867 police files compiled between January and June, officers used force in 1,127 instances, which works out to less than one per cent of all files.

Police used force in 1,175 instances over the same period in 2015.

But while the use of force decreased, the number of files and arrests increased by 3.8 per cent and 10.2 per cent, respectively.

“We have a somewhat of a good news story here,” said Christoffel.

The data was drawn from the bi-annual control tactics statistics report.

The report also looked at officers’ assessment of risk. That remained roughly the same between 2015 and 2016: There were 223 firearms risk and 171 knives risk calls in the first half of 2016 and 228 firearms risk and 172 knives risk calls in 2015.

The risk perception is often shaped by what officers are told by dispatch en route to the scene or if they've visited the location before, said Christoffel.

The data shows tasers were used more than previous years, as well as the canine unit.

Just less than 30 per cent of all patrol officers have tasers. Many instances in which tasers are used are in cases where officers are dealing with troubled personalities, said Christoffel.

Taser use increased from 25 to 42 occurrences between 2015 and 2016, or a 68 per cent jump.

The tools can equip officers to deal better with perilous situations as a form of harm reduction, said Coun. Scott McKeen.

“It sounds ridiculous to say but I'd rather have a taser than a gun or even a baton, I mean as far as causing physical harm to somebody who needs to be brought down in a humane way.”

Incidents that get assigned to the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team  were not taken into consideration for the report.