Lethbridge: The Regional Police Annual Professional Standards Report was presented to the Police Commission Wednesday night, with some interesting data. Ironically, it shared "use-of-force" statistics on the same day that a Regional Police officer was sent to hospital with serious head injuries. The stats show those injuries are rare for local officers. However, it's still an incident that can grip the stomachs of officers and citizens alike.
Last year, local officers needed to use force in 57-incidents, an increase from the 47-incidents in 2009. However, it was also noted that Regional Police officers answered more than 31,000 calls for service last year, up almost 2000 from 2009.
In terms of injuries in 2010, four officers sustained injuries with one requiring minor treatment in hospital. On the other side of the coin, 15-suspects were injured and nine needed minor treatment. Most suspect injuries stemmed from the use of a K-9 officer to control an incident.
Sergeant George Carscadden, who heads the Regional Police Training Unit, says "Ultimately, our goal is to use no force on anybody and if they cooperate there would be no use of force". However, he notes, "It's one of those things when dealing with individuals in our community, that some people don't cooperate with us and we train officers to the best abilities that we can, to prepare them to use force effectively".
While residents may have a mental image of what they think the average suspect would look like, statistics indicate the criminal element comes in a variety of ages and sizes. Carscadden says, "The average individual that we dealt with in those use-of-force reports, was between 18 and 35 (years of age), they were approximately 5-foot-5 to 6-feet in height, and between 150 and 200-pounds".
Also of note, the 2010 Regional Police Report, shows stun guns were used on four occasions last year, compared to 13-incidents in 2009.
The Regional Police Professional Standards Report, outlines a well defined process to deal with Police misconduct and public complaints. Statistics in 2010 were consistent with 2009. While Public Complaint Investigations increased from eight cases in 2009 to 19 in 2010, it was noted that the increase was due to a different method of documenting, in order to enhance transparency. Of the 19 complaints most were withdrawn, dismissed or informally resolved by the parties involved. Only six cases are still under investigation.