June 16th, 2024

NPF opposed to reduction of less-lethal options for law enforcement

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on November 10, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Earlier this month, the National Police Federation on behalf of 20,000 RCMP members wrote to federal government leaders to outline their concerns over reducing the number of intervention options available to RCMP members across the country.

The NPF submitted an information package, which included a video that showcases and explains the types of less-lethal options used by members of the RCMP and a plea to the federal government, requesting they revisit their proposal to reduce the number of less-lethal use-of-force intervention options in policing.

In their letter the NPF states the government’s proposal would shorten the de-escalation timeframe during police encounters, and risk public and officer safety.

NPF board of directors member and RCMP member since 1994, Jeff McGowan, said there are a number of inaccuracies on the mandate letter as they refer to some of the techniques used by the RCMP with wrong names or specifying they are used in a different form than the RCMP actually uses them.

“It’s a bit problematic, because in the mandate letter it actually states chokehold which we don’t train on, and we don’t do. So, they are clearly misinformed on that, and then they talk about rubber bullets, we don’t use, and I can’t think of any instance where we’ve ever used rubber bullets, and then they talk about tear gas for crowd control but tear gas is not used for crowd control,” said McGowan.

He explained that in the rare instance where tear gas has been used it is used for riot control not crowd control.

The video submitted with the information package explains the use of tear gas is almost exclusive to riot suppression, and it explains that they don’t use it even in unlawful assemblies, showcasing the example of the Stanley Cup Riot in Vancouver in 2011.

McGowan said that taking away the less-lethal options from members of the police will result in unnecessary deaths on both sides.

“When it comes down to use of force within Canada in particular, everything is governed by Section 25 of the Criminal Code,” said McGowan.

He said that when it comes down to police using force it just has to be reasonable.

“That’s why the courts for example always stay away from dictating what techniques to use and what tactics to use, because they understand and will always be deferential to the people on the ground,” said McGowen.

He said having somebody come in who clearly has no knowledge, and no idea of the techniques, telling them what they can or cannot do, is a real problem.

McGowan also touched on the fact that some people may think that even with lethal options a person could potentially be shot in a way that will not kill them, and said that is nearly impossible to accomplish.

“I’ve been in the force since ’94, I was a member of the emergency response team in 2003, I was a full time member of the emergency response team as a sniper, firearms instructor, I’ve taught long range rifle courses, basic firearms instructor, I teach carbine-shotgun, the regular .308, I also competed in shoots with the Alaska State troopers when I was in the Yukon and I will tell you that shooting somebody in the leg, the foot, the hand, the gun out of a hand or trying to shoot without killing someone – and that’s not even the point because you’re shooting at the centre of mass -when you’re shooting is next to impossible,” said McGowan.

The video from the information package sent to the federal government can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcfCuNlIgHs

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