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.