As of Friday, March 14, 2014, trained members of the Regina Police Service will be, once again, carrying Conducted Energy Weapons CEWs), commonly called Tasers, as part of their standard-issued equipment.
Before being issued a CEW, officers are required to complete a three-to-four-hour online training module, through the Saskatchewan Police College, followed by an eight-hour training session in a classroom. The classroom training includes: a review of the theory presented online; a review of the policies and procedures pertaining to CEW use; a focus on de-escalation techniques; “dry” drills with training cartridges to practice safe handling and deployment; and practice deployments on foam targets. The classroom training concludes with realistic one-on-one scenarios to test the officer’s individual decision-making under pressure. Each scenario is observed by the instructors and de-briefed with the candidate to evaluate the decision-making. Once these requirements have been met, each officer receives certification and, with it, authorization to carry a CEW in regular patrol duties. Each trained officer is issued a CEW at the start of his or her shift and returns it at the end of shift. The officer is required to test the device at the start of shift. The Service has responsibility for maintenance and safe storage of the devices when they are not in use. Members must re-certify each year in order to carry a CEW. CEW instructors must be re-certified as instructors every three years.
The decision-making with any Use-of-Force is complex, unique to each situation and often carried out within seconds. The circumstances that must be present in CEW use are also complex but they must include “an immediate need for control (of the subject) due to the high risk of death or serious bodily harm”. Any officer who discharges a CEW against a person must have EMS or a qualified medical practitioner attend to that individual at the earliest opportunity. A CEW is deemed an intermediate weapon; it is not intended to be used as a substitute for lethal force.
The cost of the CEW program is approximately $190,000 (one hundred and ninety-thousand dollars), approved as part of the 2014 Capital Budget of the Regina Police Service. The Service has purchased 110 CEWs with holsters and cartridges. Before being issued to officers, the CEWs were tested by an independent expert to ensure that they meet all of the required specifications for safety and effectiveness. (As earlier noted, each officer must also test the CEW at the start of his or her shift.) As with every use of force, every use of a CEW will be reported to an internal Use-of-Force review committee to ensure that proper procedures and policy were followed. The Regina Police Service, like all other municipal police services presents quarterly Use-of-Force summaries to the Saskatchewan Police Commission.
The Regina Police Service will notify the public each time a CEW is discharged on a subject; this will not include simply pointing a CEW.