Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube yesterday called on the Ministry of Community Safety and CorrectionalServices to save lives by requiring police to use de-escalation techniques in conflict situations before resorting to lethal force.
.Dube was speaking at the release yesterday at Queen’s Park of “A Matter Of Life and Death,” an investigation into the direction provided by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to Ontario police services for de-escalation of conflict situations.
The 90-page report makes 22 recommendations.
Its main finding was that the Ontario government needs to use its “legal and moral authority” to take the lead in preventing police-involved shootings.
” How police are trained to handle situations of conflict with people in crisis is not a matter of academic debate. It is literally a matter of life and death, and one that has been neglected in this province for too long,” the report says.
The Ombudman’s review was launched shortly after the police shooting death of Sammy Yatim, 18, in July, 2013.
Yatim, was shot eight times by Toronto Police Constable. James Forcillo while alone on a downtown Toronto streetcar, shortly after wielding a small knife and exposing himself to passengers. The shooting was captured on bystander video and quickly disseminated.This led to a public outcry.
Forcillo, 33, was charged and found not guilty of second-degree murder for the first three shots that killed Yatim, but guilty of attempted murder for the second volley of shots fired seconds after the initial three. Sentencing is set for late July
Since Yatim’s death, 19 more people were shot dead by police in Ontario.
Dubé says people are dying at the hands of police not because police aren’t following their training — “it’s because they are.”
“The majority of their training focuses on exerting authority and establishing control over armed or hostile subjects, principally by drawing their weapons and yelling commands.” says the report.
According to the report, Ontario police officers receive just 12 weeks of basic training at the Ontario Police College, far less than those elsewhere in Canada.