Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Less-lethal weapon: We should be focusing on community policing, not weapons

A beanbag projectile used in a modified shotgun can be fired accurately
from up to 18 metres away.
As police forces across North America face increased scrutiny in the wake of numerous high-profile fatal shootings, Toronto Police have pushed for more officer training and adopted a “less-lethal” weapon that they hope will help to de-escalate dangerous situations. The so-called sock gun shoots Kevlar-wrapped projectiles meant to immobilize a suspect.

Police were urged to invest in non-lethal options in a use-of-force review by retired Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci after the shooting death of Sammy Yatim, 18, in 2013. Constable James Forcillo was convicted of attempted murder in the shooting, which was caught on video. This week, Toronto Police killed another young man, Alex Wettlaufer, 21, who was a friend of Mr. Yatim. The shooting occurred after a fight allegedly involving a gun was reported at a subway station. It is being probed by the Special Investigations Unit.

No person viewing video of the shooting death of Sammy Yatim on a streetcar would hesitate if given the opportunity to magically replace Constable James Forcillo’s handgun with one of the Toronto Police Service’s newly acquired beanbag-shooting shotguns.

Such a switch might have saved Mr. Yatim’s life, Constable Forcillo’s career and whatever amount of the community’s trust and confidence in police that was lost that night in 2013.  (more...)


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