February 27, 2016 - 11:30 AM
KAMLOOPS - After bylaw officers suffered a series of assaults, the City of Kamloops is revisiting the possibility of providing them with pepper spray, batons and handcuffs for protection.
Community safety and enforcement manager Jon Wilson says the topic isn’t a new one at City Hall.
“It’s something the city reviewed in 2009, I believe,” he says. “At the time we were considering it, but we opted to hold off on issuing protective equipment at that time. With the recent occurrences of increased assaults and situations with staff we’re having to revisit the safety tools needed for the job."
Wilson says staff have faced "a number" of assaults. Included in that number was an assault on a female officer last year when she caught graffiti taggers. She was struck in the head with a skateboard.
Recently, another officer was pushed to the ground and sustained an injury. Both had to take time off work, but Wilson says they’ve since returned.
Up until now, the only protective equipment officers have is a slash resistant ballistic vest, but given safety concerns, Wilson says that might not be enough. He says, the additional items to the tool belt might curb the assaults.
“The reality is we are interacting with people who have addictions issues, mental health issues, have issues with authority figures. We’re out there doing a role for public safety in the community,” he says.
Wilson says those tools will come with strict policy and additional training.
“It’s absolutely a protective measure. But with that, there’s training and risk evaluation that needs to be done… it would be a last option to utilize them,” he says, noting officers would use handcuffs to restrain someone after deploying the spray.
“Once you’ve deployed that you are responsible for ensuring their safety or controlling the situation until they can get medical assistance and the appropriate authorities there,” he says.
Wilson says bylaw officers would follow to the standard incident management/intervention model use of force, the same used by the RCMP. If an officer didn’t comply with orders and deployed the spray or their baton as a first reaction instead of a last resort, they could face assault charges under the criminal code.
Wilson and community safety director David Duckworth are looking to see if the demand is strong enough for those tools, while officers continue discussions as a group.
What do you think about the city potentially giving bylaw officers batons, pepperspray and handcuffs? Comment below.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016