P.A. police one of only two Sask. forces to avoid gun use in past year: report

An officer in the Prince Albert Police Service.

Prince Albert is one of the only police services in the province where officers have not used fired a gun on a call in the past year.

That was one of the revelations contained in the 2016-2017 Saskatchewan Police Commission annual report for 2016-17 released Tuesday.

Other than Prince Albert, the only other community with a police force that didn’t have any incidents involving an officer using their firearm was the File Hills First Nation. The small community of about 1,400 has a nine-member force.

While P.A police didn’t fire on any people or animals, they did deal with ten incidents where members of the public fired guns, including one rifle, three shotguns, one handgun, a restricted weapon and four unknown weapons. Those calls resulted in one civilian death, four injuries and nine Criminal Code charges.

Other than File Hills, Prince Albert has the lowest ratio of police officers per population, at one officer for every 390 people. That is calculated using the 92 police officers on the force compared to the 2016 census population of P.A.

Of the province’s larger cities with police forces, Moose Jaw has the highest ratio of people per police officer, with one officer for every 628 people.

Of the other municipal forces in the country, while many had incidents involving police firing their guns, only one incident involved a fatal police shooting.

That relates to a 2016 case out of Saskatoon where officers came across a break and enter in progress. “Two officers fired three rounds from service carbines,” the report said, “resulting in the subject’s demise.”

Saskatoon was also the site of an officer accidentally discharging one round. No one was injured.

In terms of animal control, most cities with municipal forces had incidents were officers used either rifles or service pistols to euthanize injured deer. Regina had an incident where an officer fired a shotgun round in front of a charging pit-bull to scare it off, and a Corman Park officer shot a raccoon that was creating a nuisance.

The report also tracked the use of Conducted Energy Weapons (CEWs), also referred to as Tasers.

CEWs were only used twice in Prince Albert over the last year. Saskatoon saw the most incidents with 11.

One incident involved a stolen taxi. The suspect fled police, driving erratically, before colliding with a cruiser on the highway, disabling both vehicles.

The suspect got out of the car and began to flee on foot, at which point officers saw a large knife in the suspect’s back pocket. The suspect stopped, turned and faced the officer, with one hand behind his back. Fearing the threat of the knife, the officer pulled out a CEW and yelled commands. The suspect did not comply, and the CEW was discharged. The suspect fell forward to the ground, but got up again and ran. Officers caught up with and arrested the suspect.

The second incident involved youth, though that was not known at the time. Police were engaged in a pursuit when the driver stopped the car, got out, and ran. Officers chased the suspect, until they came to a fence. The suspect turned and took a fighting stance. Officers verbally warned the suspect they would use a taser if he didn’t comply. He didn’t and officers used their CEW, taking the youth into custody. He was taken to hospital and given a clean bill of health.

Prince Albert had 16 cases of discipline from 2016-2017, including seven that resulted in no discipline, seven where counselling, advice or mediation was involved, and two where remedial action was ordered.

Regina saw one police officer formally disciplined and two resign as a result of disciplinary action, while Estevan had one officer dismissed from the service.