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More than 150 use of force reports from Thunder Bay police in 2020


February 17, 2021
By Canadian Press

Feb. 17, 2021 – In 2020, there were 151 use of force reports compared to the 136 in 2019, a report presented to the Thunder Bay Police Services Board revealed on Tuesday.

The report showed there was a total of 50,808 police-public interactions last year, a 6.7 per cent decrease from 54,464 in 2019.

The most frequent use of force option selected for 2020 statistics was “firearm pointed.” The second most selected option was “handgun drawn”, the report presented by Thunder Bay Police Service Sgt. Rino Belcamino showed.

Officers pointed their firearm 79 times and a handgun was drawn 70 times, according to the report.

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“Officers may be required to use use of force to protect the public or themselves,” Belcamino said. “During all these times a police officer is trying to de-escalate a situation and use the least amount of force for compliance.”

Compliance by subjects occurred in 96 per cent of interactions where a firearm was pointed and in 94 per cent of interactions where a handgun was drawn, the report said.

In 2020, officers discharged their firearms seven times in relation to the 151 use of force incidents, which is a 56 per cent decrease compared to 2019. All of these incidents involving a firearm were in relation to the dispatch of a wounded animal or incidents involving an aggressive animal, Belcamino said.

Conducted energy weapons were used 11 times in 2020, an 83 per cent increase compared to 2019.

Under the ministry of community safety and correctional services, force can be used by officers to protect themselves, protect the public, effect arrest, prevent the commission of an offence, prevent escape, accidental, or destroy an animal.

The most selected option for 2020 was to “protect self” at 29 per cent and “protect public” being the second most selected option at 23 per cent.

Weapon-related calls accounted for the largest use of force incidents in 2020 with 41 per cent of 151 calls.

“Other calls” accounted for the second-largest category with 25 per cent of calls. The “other category” would include pursuits, welfare checks, suicidal subjects, kidnappings, wanted persons or police assistance.

Police are required to submit a use of force report in a number of situations including using physical force on another person that results in injury that requires medical attention, drawing a handgun in the presence of a member of the public, discharging a firearm, pointing a firearm, using a weapon other than a firearm on a person or using a conducted energy weapon.

Officers are also required to report any injuries sustained by an individual in a use of force incident and whether medical attention is required.

Reports for 2020 indicate 45 incidents where injuries occurred. Of the 45, 21 were minor and seven were serious, most of which are self-inflicted, the report states.

Police injuries included five minor injuries and eight injuries to others including third-parties.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2021.


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