The Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners today received notification from Police Chief Clive Weighill that he plans to retire from his position as Chief of Police with the Saskatoon Police Service on October 1, 2017.
Police Chief Weighill notified the Police Commission of his decision at its monthly meeting on June 27, 2017.
Police Commission Chair Darlene Brander said, “The Police Commission has received and accepted the notification by Chief Weighill that he will be retiring as Police Chief as of October 1, 2017. Each of us, as Commissioners, expresses our sincere appreciation for his significant contribution to the Saskatoon Police Service, in particular, and our community in general. We wish him all the best in his retirement.”
The Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners will launch the recruitment process for the Chief of Police position immediately and will implement a transition process with the Police Service until such time as Chief Weighill’s position is filled.
Police Chief Weighill said, “I wish to thank the Board of Police Commissioners, both past and present, for their support and advice during my 11 year tenure. In relation to the sworn and civilian members of the Saskatoon Police Service it would be impossible to find a better or more committed group of people to work with. I also want to thank the many community partners who I have collaborated with to make Saskatoon a safer city. Other than my marriage to Lois this has been the best 11 years of my life, but I feel the time is right to begin a new chapter.”
Commission Chair Brander added, “Given the strong national reputation that has been developed for the Saskatoon Police Service under Chief Weighill’s watch we expect that the recruitment and selection process will yield very strong candidates for the Police Chief position. Again, we thank Chief Weighill for his dedication to the Police Service and to Saskatoon. We are the better for his time at the helm of the Service.”
Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners Chair Darlene Brander through the City Clerk’s Office 306-975-3240.
From Saskatoon StarPhoenix, May 24, 2017
Use of force:
Some statistics on the use of force by Saskatoon police in 2016, with corresponding numbers from 2015 and 2014 in brackets:
Total incidents involving use of force: 201 (186, 144)
Gun fired by police: 8 (3, 2)
Taser used by police: 11 (17, 7)
Use of force during initial contact: 176 (92, 96)
Use of force during arrest: 118 (72, 75)
Suspects injured: 101 (60, 51)
Suspects died: One (0, 0)
Suspects needed medical attention: 83 (53, 58)
Officers injured: 14, (13, 13)
The rise of methamphetamine use in Saskatoon is driving an increase in the use of force by Saskatoon police officers, especially a spike in violent first contact, police Chief Clive Weighill says.
Weighill presented a report at Wednesday’s board of police commissioners meeting showing an increase in use of force in 2016. It has risen steadily during the past three years.
Weighill said the steady rise in use of force in response to crystal meth is happening across Western Canada.
“When you’re dealing with (suspects using meth), they’re not rational,” he told the board. “They’re violent.”
While the number of total incidents rose slightly, from 186 in 2015 to 201 in 2016, the use of force during initial contact with a suspect nearly doubled, police statistics show. Use of force incidents during initial contact jumped to 176 in 2016 from 92 in 2015.
Charges for methamphetamine possession rose from two per cent of drug possession charges in 2012 to 34 per cent in 2016, Saskatoon police statistics show. Total calls rose by about two per cent in 2016, for a total of about 77,000 calls, while use of force increased about eight per cent, Weighill said.
The board endorsed a motion by Mayor Charlie Clark to follow up on the use of force findings. Clark asked what police are learning from encounters with people addicted to or impaired by meth.
Insp. Patrick Nogier told the committee “southern exposure” — the influence of social media and news from the United States of growing encounters with police — may also play a role in the rise in violent first contact by emboldening suspects in Saskatoon.
Police fired their guns eight times in 2016, up from three in 2015 and twice in 2014. The number of suspects injured rose to 101 last year, up from 60 in 2015 and 51 in 2014. One suspect died after a confrontation with police last year, the first such death in three years.
Fourteen officers were injured in 2016, while 13 were injured in each of the two previous years.
From Saskatoon StarPhoenix, May 24, 2017
BY THE NUMBERS:
The number of intoxicated people held in Saskatoon police cells in each of the last five years:
The number of Saskatoon police referrals to The Lighthouse stabilization unit, which opened in 2013:
The number of intoxicated suspects detained in Saskatoon police cells jumped in 2016 as police referrals to The Lighthouse stabilization unit fell.
Statistics presented at Wednesday’s board of police commissioners meeting suggest a connection between the detention of intoxicated people in police cells and the decline in those admitted to The Lighthouse.
The number of intoxicated people held in Saskatoon police jail cells rose to 1,814 last year, the highest since 2013, when The Lighthouse stabilization unit first opened.
“As we’ve seen, there’s been progress made, but challenges remain,” Mayor Charlie Clark said.
The provincial government changed its formula for funding eligibility in late 2015, which resulted in The Lighthouse closing the stabilization unit during daylight hours in February 2016. That appears to have resulted in fewer police referrals to the unit: that number fell to 239 in 2016, the lowest in three years after a peak of 404 referrals in 2014.
Police referrals to the Saskatoon Health Region’s brief detoxification unit also dropped to their lowest point in three years, to 411, down from 761 in 2014.
“The brief detoxification unit, with its access to addictions treatment services, is a highly desirable alternative to holding intoxicated persons in a police service cell when possible to do so,” notes a report presented at Wednesday’s meeting.
However, the report adds, the detox unit is “too full, too early in the day” for police to use it as an alternative to police cells as often as they would like. Police see The Lighthouse stabilization unit and the brief detox unit as “preferred” destinations where addicted people can get the help they need as opposed to a police holding cell.
The community support officers program, which was launched in 2012 and often deals with intoxicated people on the street, continued to experience a steady rise in individuals served. That number rose to 2,382 in 2016 from 1,246 in 2013, its first full year of operation, the report says.
Clark said he intends to meet with the provincial ministers of justice and social services to discuss the findings in the report.
“Fortunately, they’ve shown some interest in a dialogue,” he said.
The provincial Ministry of Social Services introduced stricter rules in November 2015 that limited who was eligible for funding for The Lighthouse stabilization unit.
The Lighthouse discontinued operation of its daytime stabilization unit in February 2016 and started turning away clients in September.
From Sasknow.ca, May 24, 2017
Intoxication arrests were up in Saskatoon in 2016 compared to the year before and compared to a downward trend from 2012.
That is from the Action Accord Statistical Review presented to the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners on Wednesday.
The goal has been to keep intoxicated people out of jail cells and that's where The Lighthouse Stabilization Centre and the Brief Detoxification Unit come in.
The Community Support Program which deals with issues right on the streets has also reduced the frequency of arrests for intoxication.
The Stabilization Centre led to fewer non-criminals in jail cells but then 2 mitigating factors led to less use.
First, a number of people who had used the services before could no longer do so because of prior behaviours and second, there were funding issues which meant a reduction of hours the Centre is available.
The Brief Detoxification Unit is challenged with too much demand for its services, so that means having to go back to putting people in jail for public intoxication.
From CTV News Saskatoon, May 23, 2017
Saskatoon police officers have had to use more force on the job than in the past.
An increase of illicit drugs, including crystal meth, is partly to blame as officers are responding to more violent people, according to a report going to the Board of Police Commissioners.
“The trend suggests that more officers are having to deal with confrontational/physically assaultive subjects upon initial contact than in past years, which may be partially explained by increasing levels of substance abuse and intoxication,” Insp. Patrick Nogier wrote in the report.
The report shows there's been an eight per cent increase in the number of incidents that required use of force last year compared to 2015. Use of force is identified through 24 categories including pointing a gun, the use of police dogs and physical restraints.
When officers had initial contact with a suspect in 2014, use of force was used 96 times, according to the report. That number went down to 92 in 2015, but went up to 176 last year.
A similar pattern was reported during arrests: there were 75 incidents of use of force during an arrest in 2014, there were 72 in 2015 and 118 in 2016.
Two guns were fired by police in 2014, compared to three in 2015 and eight in 2016. When it comes to takedowns or throws, there were 35 incidents in 2014, 25 in 2015 and 40 last year.
Reporting use of force also includes non-physical measures, like when the tactical support unit is called to a scene. The report said the reporting of the TSU as use of force did contribute to the increase, and does not result in a physical application of force.
“Mere presence alone is at times enough to solve the problem,” Nogier wrote.
Police pursuits are also included in the number of use of force incidents, after the province mandated it be included in 2013. Pursuits accounted for about 45 per cent of all use of force incidents in 2016 and continue to increase each year, according to the report. There were 149 vehicle pursuits last year compared to 54 in 2015.
An officer is required to fill out a form anytime use of force is applied and the Saskatoon Police Service provides its use of force statistics to the police board each year.
The report is expected to be discussed at a Board of Police Commissioners meeting on Wednesday afternoon.
From CBC News Saskatoon, May 24, 2017
Saskatoon police Chief Clive Weighill says officers are arresting more people who are drunk or high on city streets.
After receiving complaints from the public and business groups, Weighill has instituted a zero-tolerance approach to public intoxication in downtown areas.
"We've had a lot of people that were walking around downtown, Riversdale, the Broadway area that were intoxicated," he said. "We want to make sure people are safe on the streets."
According to a new report, police put 1,814 intoxicated people into holding cells last year. In 2015, that number sat at 1,578 cases.
From 2012-15, those numbers had been dropping.
Weighill said those increasing numbers show a substantial strain on services that are available, and the need for more long-term, stable shelter for people suffering from addiction.
"When you look at the numbers of people who are using the services, the police, the brief detox or The Lighthouse, they've almost quadrupled over the past four or five years," he said. "There are a lot of people in need in Saskatoon and we just haven't got the capacity to deal with it."
The situation has been compounded after the province changed funding for The Lighthouse last year. As a result, the program's daytime emergency shelter service was cut, limiting its operating hours to 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. CST.
However, the police report stated that The Lighthouse's role began to decline even before then, due to a number of people deemed ineligible for stabilization beds at the shelter for behavioural issues.
As well, the report said the city's Brief Detox Unit is often overwhelmed and "has been too full, too early in the day to allow the Saskatoon Police Service to use the facility" as an alternative for police cells.
Weighill said the policy is not directed at people who've only had a few drinks, but is aimed at those making the streets feel unsafe.
Saskatoon's Board of Police Commissioners will be discussing the report Wednesday afternoon.