Guns displayed by Cornwall cops up for second year

Cornwall Deputy Police Chief Danny Aikman, left, and Chief Dan Parkinson during a police board meeting on Jan. 28, 2015. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – The number of Cornwall police officers who unsnapped their holster or pulled a firearm is up for the second year in a row.

Use-of-force statistics reviewed by the city police board Tuesday show the total arrests where officers used force was 40 in 2014, compared to 29 in 2013 and 17 in 2012.

The single contributing factor was firearm-related cases – 29 in 2014, compared to 19 in 2013 and 14 in 2012.

“No one was shot by our personnel…no remedial training was needed…no warning shots were fired,” Chief Dan Parkinson told the board.

But Chief Parkinson isn’t too concerned with the spike in gun-related cases considering the option for tasers for all front-line officers is fresh.

Those conducted energy weapons weren’t in the hands of officers until November 2014 while the bulk of gun-display cases were in the spring.

Parkinson believes there is also another reason why the numbers were up.

“When we look at our year-end report, one figure does jumps out at me – the very few categories of crime that has increase – that is ‘assault police.’ That tells me there’s perhaps a good and justified reason why the number of display incidents of a firearm could take place,” he said.

“We don’t take un-holstering a firearm lightly at all.”

The chief was asked by Cornwall Newswatch whether the increase in assaults on police is a societal shift against respecting law enforcement.

“That thought’s crossed my mind. But we’ve made such strides in reducing crime in this city that I think we are probably dealing now with some of the worst of the worst,” he said, “Ones who haven’t amended a behaviour or lifestyle to lead a peaceful life and to ensure our community is safe. We, in fact, maybe dealing more and more with those incorrigible ones…and are more likely to assault us,” the chief said.

Police Chases

There were five police chases within the city limits during 2014, down from 6 in 2013. Three of those chases were called off for safety reasons. Chief Parkinson told the board chases are the most dangerous situation an officer can be in, both for him or herself and for the general public.

Missing Persons

The number of missing people in Cornwall was down for a second straight year. There were 64 missing persons cases in 2014, compared to 94 in 2013 and 131 in 2012. In last year’s cases, almost half the missing were teenagers.

Complaints About Police

There were 10 public complaints about police conduct in 2014 – one more than in 2013. The chief says, considering the force has 16,000 contacts a year with the public, it’s a very low percentage. “(But) I’m not saying 10 is acceptable,” he said.

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