Conducted Energy Weapon Deployment
Conducted energy weapons (CEWs) may be used by police to control individuals who pose a threat to the public, to officers, or to themselves. CEWs have proven to result in fewer significant injuries to subjects and officers than other use-of-force options.
Ontario first authorized these weapons for all police services in 2002, limiting their use to frontline supervisors, tactical units, and perimeter control and containment teams.
In March 2010, acting on recommendations from the provincial Policing Standards Advisory Committee, Ontario introduced a new guideline as well as new training standards for police officers using CEWs. The guideline recommends procedures to be followed and includes circumstances for use, post-deployment procedures, medical considerations, equipment control and reporting. CEW use continued to be limited to supervisors and members of some special teams, as the issue of expanded use continued to be studied.
The province has maintained a measured approach to the use of CEWs. Its position has evolved towards expansion as experience and research supported expanded use. In response to recommendations from 12 coroners' inquest juries for expanded CEW deployment, Ontario undertook reviews of scientific research on the effects of CEW use, and consulted with stakeholders, including civil liberties advocates, before deciding how to proceed.
Multiple independent sources have concluded that CEWs are less likely to cause significant injuries than other use-of-force options and that the overall risk of serious injury associated with CEW use is low.
As with all use-of-force options, adequate procedures, training and accountability mechanisms are necessary to ensure that CEWs are used in the most effective and appropriate way. The ministry is providing revised training and accountability provisions that will be incorporated into the Use of Force Guideline. Following the release of the revised guideline, police services will be allowed to decide which officers to equip with CEWs, based on local needs and circumstances.