Police Council approves purchase of CEW cartridges for police training

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Council was asked to approve the purchase of 3,930 rounds of AI for training purposes. The purchase, however, carried a price tag of over $ 290,000.

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The Ottawa Police Service Board approved the purchase of conducted energy weapon (CEW) training cartridges on Monday, but not without a discussion of the value and use of the weapons.

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The Ottawa Police Service originally asked the board for permission to purchase 200 CEWs (commonly known as Tasers) at a cost of over $ 700,000 after tax to replace aging units that have passed their lifespan. five years operational.

But pending a review of the use of force and a few unanswered questions from the board, Deputy Chief Steve Bell said the force would review its needs and bring a new AI purchase proposal to the board in January.

In the meantime, however, Bell has asked the board of directors to approve the purchase of 3,930 rounds of AI for training purposes. The purchase, however, carried a price tag of over $ 290,000, which made some members of the board uncomfortable, including Sandy Smallwood, who joined Rawlson King in opposing procurement.

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“We were trying to make sure we had inventory in place until the end of March so that we could keep our agents qualified and able to use the IA,” Bell said.

Bell said stun guns were fired by police officers in Ottawa and used to defuse situations 118 times in 2020 and were fired by police 75 times in the same year.

Some board members appeared reluctant to approve the purchase both due to budget constraints – the SPO said if faced with a budget freeze or moderate increase, it may have to lay off the newly appointed agents. hired – and because of concerns about the effectiveness of weapons.

“It’s an expensive tool, an expensive weapon,” said Carol Anne Meehan, board member, hearing statistics on CEW use in Ottawa.

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Several community members also spoke out against the purchase at the meeting, arguing that CEWs are dangerous and can easily be abused, especially in the context of agents responding to mental health calls.

The council also received a report criticizing the process by which community members can be heard at police council meetings. Community members who appear before council have five minutes to speak, after which council members can ask questions.

The purpose of these appearances is to inform the board of directors of the public’s perspective on an issue, but the process is deprived of meaningful dialogue, according to community members who spoke to PACE, a consulting firm that reported to council on Monday.

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This report suggested forming a new “deliberative roundtable” that would provide space for community and board members to “lead a series of community dialogues on complex issues, such as systemic racism and funding”.

The Deliberative Roundtable, or RD, would be co-chaired by a board member and consist of a “manageable small number of community leaders nominated by the community and selected by the board.”

In her opening remarks at Monday’s meeting, President Diane Deans acknowledged the need for the board to change the way it engages with the community.

“We also recognize that our current community engagement processes are inadequate,” she said, “and do not provide a space to tackle complex and emotionally charged issues together. “

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