KAWARTHA LAKES-The number of times Kawartha Lakes Police Service officers have drawn their guns has almost doubled over the last year.
In a report to the Police Services Board, Inspector Tom Hickey said the number of incidents involving officers who have drawn or pointed a gun is up from 8 in 2019 to 14 in 2020.
“The number is indicative of more calls where there is information where person is in possession of a firearm.” Hickey stated. “This is related to some of the things going on in community housing where gang members are coming from Toronto and are taking over apartments to use as a hub for dealing narcotics. When our people are dealing with them our people having to point firearms, that is going to come with the territory, unfortunately.”
The majority of incidents where a handgun was drawn or a firearm was pointed involved in a high-risk situation, or weapons call according to the report. In 2020 there were nine occasions when an officer drew their firearm to effect the arrest of a person armed with a knife or offences where a firearm was alleged to have been involved. Police say there were two occasions when officers drew their firearm to effect the arrest of those operating a motor vehicle in an erratic or dangerous manner, including the arrest of a person who had pointed a shotgun at another person during a road rage incident. On three occasions officers drew their firearms while investigating incidents where a handgun was alleged to have been observed and on one occasion firearms were drawn while investigating an incident where a shotgun was alleged to have been observed. (road rage incident)
In the only case where an officer discharged a firearm it was for the purpose of humanely destroying an injured animal according to police.
The number of times officers have used or discharged their Conductive Energy Weapons or tasers is down according to Hickey.
Officers drew a CEW 3 times in 2020 where it was the sole use of force option deployed. In five out of the seven incidents where multiple uses of force options were deployed, a CEW was one of the options that were deployed. Police say in these incidents, the CEW was used in conjunction with empty hand techniques on four occasions. On one occasion, empty hand techniques were used in conjunction with the pointing of a firearm at a person and in another, they were used in conjunction with an aerosol weapon. In all of the seven incidents, these techniques were used to gain compliance with those who were aggressive with police or were armed with a weapon (knife) according to the report.
The board heard that it has been mandatory for officers to wear protective vests during their shift for a number of years.
“We also replace officer body armour on regular rotation to make sure its ballistic capability hasn’t degraded.” Chief Mark Mitchell told the board. “In addition we also have hard ballistic plates that have an increased level of protection. It’s not suitable to be worn every day but in high risk situations.”
In 2020, City of Kawartha Lakes Police Officers submitted 25 Use of Force Reports involving a total of 52 force options (7 reports involved more than one force option being utilized). The trends show over the past 7 years, overall, our use of force report submissions are on a slight downward trend. 35 Use of Force reports were submitted in 2019 and 25 were submitted in 2020.
Police responded to almost 15,000 occurrences in the Lindsay area in 2020.