Improving Public and Police Officer Safety
Ontario to Allow Police Services to Equip Officers with Conducted Energy Weapons
Ontario is allowing local police services to decide which officers will be permitted to carry conducted energy weapons (CEWs).
Currently, the province restricts the use of these devices to certain designated positions and police teams such as members of tactical units, hostage rescue teams, containment teams and frontline supervisors.
The new approach is based on evidence that shows CEW use results in fewer significant injuries to both subjects and police officers when compared to other use-of-force options. Since CEWs were first introduced in Ontario in 2002, the government has been carefully reviewing independent research, stakeholder input, and the recommendations of several coroners' inquest juries, all of which contributed to this decision.
The government is committed to openness and accountability in policing. After consulting with policing and community groups, the government is introducing changes that:
- Provide direction and guidance as to when a CEW would be deemed to be appropriate;
- Increase reporting provisions (i.e., CEW use will be reported in an open and transparent manner, including when a CEW is displayed with the intention to achieve behaviour compliance);
- Enhance training, including scenario-based training and training for interactions with people with mental health issues, to assist in ensuring the safe, appropriate and effective use of CEWs; and
- Expect that police services should engage local communities prior to deciding to expand CEW deployment in their jurisdiction.
Permitting local police services to expand CEW use is part of the government's plan to build safe communities for all Ontarians.
- All but one province (Quebec) allows frontline officers to carry CEWs.
- A summary outlining the changes to the Use of Force Guideline will be posted publicly on the ministry website for at least 30 days prior to changes taking effect.
- See a summary of changes to the Use of Force Guideline.
“This decision was made after carefully considering both peer-reviewed medical research and coroners’ inquest findings. Our police officers are trained to use de-escalation first whenever possible, but when that approach does not work, we need to equip our officers with another tool. Expanded conducted energy weapon deployment will help protect Ontarians and keep our communities safe.”
“Ontario's police leaders welcome the expansion of the use of conducted energy weapons as a valuable intermediate use-of-force option. With clear policies and procedures, a well-trained officer with a conducted energy weapon, properly supervised and fully accountable for all use-of-force decisions, can save lives.”
Chief Paul Cook
“The Office of the Chief Coroner is pleased to see the government response to the conducted energy weapon-related recommendations that have been provided by inquest juries in recent years. Use-of-force issues are challenging and we appreciate the careful thought that has gone into the decision announced today.”
Dr. Dirk Huyer
“The Ontario Association of Police Services Boards is supportive of the expanded deployment of conducted energy weapons as determined by local police governing authorities. This decision and approach are about enhancing the safety of the public and the officers who protect them.”
“We welcome the Minister’s announcement. CEWs give front line officers a broader range of tools to use when facing the very broad range of circumstances on the streets, each and every day. Public safety and officer safety are the top priorities for the PAO, and we believe the public shares those priorities.”