Manitoulin OPP officers will begin carrying Tasers starting this spring

MANITOULIN—Manitoulin detachment Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers will begin carrying Taser weapons, or conducted energy weapons (CEW), this spring, as will all officers across Ontario, following an amendment on the Use of Force Guidelines for CEW from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS). This directive now allows police services to identify further classes of officers authorized to carry CEWs.

Prior to this change, only OPP sergeants, emergency response team officers and tactical officers carried CEWs in addition to their sidearms. This new change will see all officers who have completed the required training able to carry CEWs.

“The training for officers will be starting (for CEWs) this month through to April,” Constable Al Boyd, community services officer with the Manitoulin OPP, told The Expositor. “Officers won’t all have personal CEWs, like their sidearms, at first. The detachment will have a set number to accommodate all officers on duty and they will sign a CEW in and out at the beginning and end of their shifts.”

Constable Boyd said that eventually all officers will have personal CEWs, but that detachment CEWs will be the first step on Manitoulin and throughout detachments across Ontario.

He explained that the training for officers to carry a CEW is quite rigorous and includes a 12 hour, scenario-based training program from the OPP academy with an instructor who specializes in CEWs.

“Officers will also be required to complete a four hour recertification annually,” Constable Boyd added.

Currently, he explained, there are four sergeants, in addition to the staff sergeant, on Manitoulin who carry CEWs.

“The CEWs will give officers another use of force option,” he said. “It will give officers an option between pepper spray or the baton or their sidearm. The sidearm is a deadly use of force and an officer has to believe that his/her own life or the life of another is in danger before using their sidearm.”

Constable Boyd explained that CEWs work by delivering a high voltage electrical shock which sends signals to the central nervous system, causing muscles to contract leaving an individual incapacitated for five seconds.

“That five seconds gives officers enough time to unarm an individual if necessary and handcuff them,” he added, “and there are no lasting side effects for the Tasered individual.”

Robin Burridge