Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé today called on the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to save lives by requiring police across the province to use de-escalation techniques in conflict situations before resorting to lethal force.
Dubé says police should get better training in de-escalation techniques.
He say in 12 weeks of basic training for police there are only 5 sessions dedicated to de-escalation and communication. He says there are 15 sessions dedicated to driving and 19 sessions dedicated to the use of firearms.
Dubé says it shows where the priorities lie and he is calling for a recalibration of those priorities so there is more emphasis on de-escalation.
19 more people have been killed in police shootings in Ontario since a special investigation was opened following the shooting death of teenager Sammy Yatim on a Toronto streetcar in July 2013.
The investigation, conducted by the Special Ombudsman Response Team, found that training at the Ontario Police College and the legislative regulation, guideline and training model on which it is based “are all below the standards that citizens should expect in a modern, forward-looking jurisdiction,” Mr. Dubé says.
Not only is the basic police training course in Ontario among the shortest in Canada, it is focused more on how to use weapons than on finding alternatives.
Dubé says inquests have shown police respond with their guns when vulnerable people are in crisis because they are following their training.
The ombudsman stresses his report is not being critical of police, but of their “inadequate training” for when they face difficult and potentially dangerous situations.
He says says the shootings are traumatic for everyone, including the officers and society as a whole.