Conducted Energy Weapons Evaluation 2016 - Summary of Findings

The evaluation was conducted in 2016 by Planning, Performance and Analytics. It included a literature review, an analysis of available OPS data on CEWs, a sworn member questionnaire, and an external scan of CEW usage, policies, tracking, and reporting by other police services.

The key findings of the evaluation are summarized below:

Improved CEW Access

  • At the time of the evaluation, the number of available CEWs was 297: 30 tactical (100% of tactical team) and 267 patrol (51% of patrol team).
  • The number of CEWs "on the road" at any given time ranged between 29 and 50, as compared to between 5 and 15 prior to implementation of the two-year CEW plan.
  • The average estimated time for a CEW to arrive on scene dropped to 7 minutes from 18.
  • Most sworn officers who responded to the survey (81%) perceived improved access to CEWs.

CEW Effectiveness as an Intermediate Weapon

  • Sworn members who responded to the survey rated CEWs very highly in terms of preventing/reducing injury, preventing the need for the use of other physical force options, and in gaining immediate control of the subject. This is supported by compelling anecdotal evidence.

Safe and Appropriate CEW Use

  • Analysis of the data suggests there was an 84% increase in CEW usage in 2015, following the expansion of access. There was also a decrease in the usage of other types of force - including discharge of firearms (-39%) and drawing of handguns (-29%) - in 2015. Taken together, this suggests that officers may have been using CEWs as an alternative to other use of force options, which is consistent with the intention behind the two-year plan.
  • From the limited data available, it appears that very few injuries or complaints associated with CEW deployments have been reported.
  • Several summaries of CEW deployment reports are available here.

Accountability and Training

  • Almost all of the sworn officers who responded to the survey perceive that current training and accountability measures are adequate; however, there have been recent calls for even more de-escalation training for police officers and a review of Ontario's Use of Force Model.
    • Based on feedback from other police services in the external scan, as well as calls for more comprehensive and consistent reporting in the literature, the data collection, analysis and depth of reporting at OPS could be improved.

Perceptions Regarding Further Expansion of CEW Access

  • There was almost unanimous support from sworn officers who responded to the survey for further expansion of CEW access.
  • The greatest support was for improved CEW access for uniformed officers or sworn officers who deal directly with the public. There was less support for distribution based on years of experience, work performance, supervisor approval, assignment to particular teams, or deployment by particular geographic area or by shift times.

A series of recommendations were proposed based on the findings of the evaluation. That the OPS:

  • Undertake consultations with key stakeholders and partners to gather perceptions regarding the impact of the expansion of access to CEWs implemented in 2015, and assess their perceptions regarding broadening of access further in the future;
  • Undertake an analysis of contextual factors related to CEW deployments following the expansion of CEW access;
  • Pending results of the stakeholder consultations, make a recommendation to the Board and budget for the purchase of additional CEWs and further expand access to as many frontline officers as is financially feasible;
  • Refine forms, mechanisms and tracking spreadsheets that collect data relating to use of force and CEW deployments in order to facilitate better reporting and analysis; and
  • Explore, with the Ministry and counterparts in other police services, the possibility of creating more consistency in reporting for use of force and CEW deployments and monitor any developments regarding changes in training requirements or revisions to Ontario's Use of Force Model.

Based on the experience of this expansion and the evaluation, the OPS is developing a phased-in plan to expand the current CEW complement to all patrol officers.