Cornwall police use of force up 22% in 2021

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – The Cornwall Police Service saw a marked increase in the use of force by its officers in 2021.

Most of it was fueled by police officers pulling their handguns and pointing them at a subject.

The details are contained in the CPS Use of Force Report reviewed by the police board last week, showing there were 44 reports submitted last year compared to 36 in 2020 – a 22 per cent increase.

Firearms were pulled 18 times last year compared to seven in 2020. It’s the highest number of instances in the last five years. Two times a gun was pulled to destroy an animal in distress.

When it came to Tasers, while overall reports were down, more officers were firing as opposed to displaying them to people they wanted to get under control. There were 20 conducted energy weapons discharged compared to 11 in 2020. There were three times it was displayed last year compared to 16 in 2020.

An aerosol spray was used once to “suppress a vicious dog” – the only time it’s been used in the last five years, the report states. There was also one instance of a bean bag weapon being used and one weaponless hand technique to subdue someone.

In some cases, multiple officers at one scene had to file individual reports, leading to multiple cases of use of force. There were six cases last year where multiple reports were were filed leading to 16 reports. In 2020, there were two cases.

No one required medical help in any of the use of force cases last year. If any were taken to hospital, it was to remove Taser probes or for psychiatric assessment. The rates of injury have been falling since 2017 with no injuries since 2018.

The report notes that no remedial training was needed for any city police officers last year.

The Cornwall Police Service made 2,255 arrests in 2021 – about 24 per cent more than in 2020. Use of force cases amounted to 1.6 per cent of the 2021 arrests. “This is the lowest percentage rate out of total arrests in the last three years.”