November 1, 2022
Ottawa, ON — On behalf of our ~20,000 RCMP Members across Canada, the National Police Federation (NPF) today submitted a fulsome information package, video, and adamant plea to the federal government, requesting they revisit their proposal to reduce the number of less-lethal use-of-force intervention options in policing. The Government’s proposal would shorten the de-escalation timeframe during police encounters, and risk public and officer safety. The Prime Minister’s proposal was outlined in a mandate letter to Public Safety Minister, the Hon. Marco Mendicino, and in a separate mandate letter from the Minister to RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki.
In the mandate letters released earlier this year, the federal government outlined its intention for the RCMP to prohibit “the use of neck restraints in any circumstance and the use of tear gas or rubber bullets for crowd control alongside developing national standards for the use-of-force.” The NPF’s submission also addressed several inaccuracies in the Government’s assumptions.
“The RCMP does not use chokeholds, neck restraints, or rubber bullets. Similarly, they do not use sponge-tipped rounds or tear gas for ‘crowd control’ but instead, rarely, for public safety in riot suppression, and separately for very high-risk emergency response team situations,” said Brian Sauvé, president of the National Police Federation.
“Our major concern is that reducing the number of less-lethal intervention options from an officer’s tool belt would jeopardize their ability to safely perform their duties to protect the subject, the public and themselves. Removing less-lethal options could increase the use of more lethal options, such as a firearm, increasing the likelihood of injury or death,” added Sauvé.
Policing in Canada is one of the most heavily regulated professions. Less than one tenth of one percent of interactions (0.1%) result in any use-of-force, with de-escalation, as well as suspect, public and Member safety, being the priority.
While the NPF supports modernization and enhanced accountability of RCMP officers, we believe that limiting the availability and use of less-lethal intervention options and techniques is a step backwards in policing, and it contradicts the desire of the NPF and the federal government to work towards police modernization and enhanced public safety. Fundamentally limiting these options increases the unnecessary application of more harmful, and potentially lethal options during high-risk situations.
The NPF has released a position statement calling on the federal government to:
- Reverse its decision to limit/eliminate certain less-lethal use-of-force options and, instead, focus on enhancing de-escalation training and oversight for our Members to ensure better public and officer safety.
- Continue to examine the impact of video technologies and their impact on use-of-force.
- Preliminary evidence in other police jurisdictions in Canada shows that Body-Worn Cameras may alter police actions, but more importantly, civilians may also act less aggressively towards officers when they are aware that they are being filmed. Reduced civilian aggressiveness may further reduce the need to use any force.
- The availability and release of video footage could also increase police transparency and enhance public confidence in law enforcement.
- Provide the RCMP with the appropriate resources to continue to improve de-escalation training, reviews, and study techniques on a regular basis and expand less-lethal use-of-force options.
- Strong policies are required to ensure that less-lethal options are used responsibly and not as a replacement for de-escalation tactics.
Less-Lethal Intervention Options Overview: Background document
About the National Police Federation:
The National Police Federation (NPF) was certified to represent ~20,000 RCMP Members serving across Canada and internationally in the summer of 2019. The NPF is the largest police labour relations organization in Canada; the second largest in North America and is the first independent national association to represent RCMP Members.
The NPF is focused on improving public safety in Canada by focusing on increasing resources, equipment, training, and other supports for our Members who have been under-funded for far too long. Better resourcing and supports for the RCMP will enhance community safety and livability in the communities we serve, large and small, across Canada.
For more information: https://npf-fpn.com/
Fabrice de Dongo
Manager, Media Relations