Usage and Accountability

CEWs are one of several less-than-lethal options available to police officers in Ontario.  A CEW is not designed to cause permanent damage, but instead to achieve control over a subject through neuromuscular incapacitation.

In accordance with Ontario Ministry of Community and Correctional Services standards and the Use of Force Model, a CEW can only be used to gain control when a subject is assaultive as defined by the Criminal Code, and/or based on the totality of the situation. This includes an imminent threat of serious bodily harm or death as well as suicide threats or attempts.

CEWs have strong accountability measures associated with their deployment and use. When a CEW is deployed, both a Use of Force Report and a Deployment Report are required. In addition, every time a CEW is deployed, it automatically records and stores information on the date and time of the deployment as well as the amount of firings and duration of firings. This data is immediately downloaded to corroborate information provided in the accompanying Use of Force and Deployment Report.

Regular downloads of CEW data are completed by a Master Trainer to corroborate reporting and explore patterns/trends.  Consistent with policy, the OPS reports to the Police Services Board on the use of CEWs as part of the annual use of force report.

The OPS is in the process of revising its policy around CEWs to require the submission of a Use of Force Report every time the CEW is drawn or deployed during a call.

No one is permitted to use a CEW without first being fully trained by a Ministry certified use of force instructor.

Currently, every CEW is individually issued to, and signed for, by an officer. Each CEW is secured and carried as per Ministry and Ottawa Police policy. As per the manufacturer, CEWs are usable for five years.

OPS records consistently demonstrate that members are using good judgment under difficult circumstances.  In 2012, OPS deployed this weapon 16 times (10 times by front-line supervisors; 6 times by Tactical).  In 2013, CEWs were used 20 times on individuals (13 by front-line and 7 times by Tactical).  The Ottawa Police yearly average is 18 deployments. To date, no serious injuries resulting from CEW deployment have been reported to the OPS.

Data on instances where the presence of a CEW contributed to the resolution of a call does not currently exist as those calls are not documented.

Some examples of recent CEW deployments are summarized here.