Training with De-Escalation Component

Provincially-mandated CEW training consists of 12 hours of study and scenario based exercises and includes both practical and written examinations.

In the interest of increased training, OPS added an additional four hours of training in November of 2013, consistent with the revised Ministry guidelines. The additional training is mainly scenario-based, exposing officers to multiple situations requiring communication and de-escalation tactics, as well as judgment on appropriate and inappropriate use of force options with live role players.

While all training scenarios include de-escalation and communication components, two out of five of the scenarios used in CEW training are built specifically to apply de-escalation techniques involving an Emotionally Disturbed Person:

  • One scenario features a subject armed with an edged weapon. As the Officer applies trained techniques/competencies in de-escalation they are able to calm the subject down and apprehend them.
  • The second scenario involves a subject in crisis with the added challenge of environmental factors such as a flammable substance (gas) or heights, where the CEW is not the appropriate response in this instance. The subject is calmed down using de-escalation techniques where an apprehension is achieved.

As with all use of force training, communication and de-escalation are emphasized as the most important and effective tools available to officers. Officers are instructed on using a CEW only when there is an immediate need to take custody of a subject, and not to view CEWs as a "weapon of convenience."

Officers must also demonstrate knowledge and proficiency on the legislation and regulatory framework, the community context surrounding the weapon's development and introduction, and the structure and function of the weapon and its effects.

Recertification training is five hours and occurs every 12 months. 

All training is conducted by Ministry certified use of force instructors at a 2:1 student to instructor ratio. The OPS has consistently exceeded the training for CEWs required by the provincial government.

Police Intervention Training

Police officers are provided with a Provincial Use of Force Model and Guideline to assist them in assessing a situation and acting in an appropriate manner to ensure public safety, as well as officer safety. A diagram of the model is available here.

Diagram of the Provincial Use of Force ModelOptions include officer presence, communication, physical control (including soft and hard techniques), other intermediate weapons such as impact weapons (e.g. baton) and aerosol weapons (e.g. Oleoresin Capsicum [OC] spray, also known as pepper spray), CEWs and as a last resort, lethal force consisting of a firearm. Use of intermediate weapons, such as a CEW, is only one intervention option.

In every call, officers must use their knowledge, skills, abilities and experience. Based on the situation they make a number of assessments on how to plan and act accordingly. For example, is the subject threatening serious bodily harm or death? Are they assaultive? Is there an imminent need to gain control of the subject?

Communication and de-escalation is always the preferred response option and remains so until the situation is resolved. The 2016 OPS Annual Report indicates that more than 99% of the time (322,588 calls for service), OPS officers use minimal to no force when responding to calls for service. This suggests that OPS officers do an oustanding job de-escalating incidents by consistently applying the de-escalation techniques and procedures they have learned.

Increased De-escalation and Communication Training

For several years, OPS has been working to increase de-escalation and training for all officers from recruits to veterans.The de-escalation training assists officers in calming a situation using officer presence and communication. Beginning in January 2014, the OPS Professional Development Centre added three and half hours of communication and de-escalation training to the Use of Force requalification training. While communication and de-escalation has always been a component in yearly training, the additional, focused training is intended to act as a refresher on dealing with people in crisis, including cases involving mental health issues, as well as introduce a model to assist officers in articulating why and how they dealt with an individual in crisis.

De-escalation is taught to OPS officers through a multi-faceted and diverse number of techniques and procedures, using a fully holistic approach. At OPS, de-escalation training is progressive, so that, as an officer gains experience, the techniques and procedures are refreshed and updated every year through annual Use of Force training.

  • Recruits at OPC - OPS recruits take thirteen weeks of full-time training at the Ontario Police College (OPC) - which cover everything from officer safety and community policing to firearms and domestic violence - and notably features a de-escalation component.
  • Recruit / Direct Entry Officer Initial OPS Use of Force Training - OPS requires an initial 40 hours of Use of Force Training for all officers. The British Columbia Institute of Justice (BCIJ) model of Crisis Intervention and Descalation Training (hyperlink) is the standard adopted by OPS in 2014 and it is fully embedded within all use of force training.  OPS training also includes a de-escalation workshop with live, open-scenario training involving both live actors and state-of-the-art simulation scenarios.
  • Recruits  / Direct Entry Officer with Coach Officers - Following OPC training, the 500 hours of on-the-job practical mentorship by a senior patrol officer provides recruit officers the opportunity to use de-escalation techniques and procedures while under the close supervision of an experienced front-line officer.  Direct Entry officers are also guided by Coach officers for an on-the-job training period.
  • Annual Training for all Officers - The 10-hour block of annual Use of Force training provided to OPS officers is heavily themed with de-escalation scenarios and simulations. General incident management strategies, decision-making tools are taught to all officers so as to guide them in making logical, well-thought-out decisions.