Guidelines for the Use of Conducted Energy Weapons

Purpose

The purpose of this document is to provide guidance on the use of conducted energy weapons (CEWs).

The guidelines are intended to assist provinces and territories as well as police services and other agencies in Canada that use CEWs. It is recognized that provinces are responsible for the administration of justice in their jurisdiction, including providing direction on the use of all types of force by police.

These guidelines have been developed based on national consultations and may be considered by provinces and territories as well as police services and other agencies in Canada in the development of their individual policies and procedures for CEWs.  These guidelines reflect areas to be addressed in detailed policies, recognizing that jurisdictions may align some or all elements of their own policies or procedures with these guidelines. It is recognized that jurisdictions use a variety of different terms in characterizing these different elements but that these are broadly compatible with the elements outlined in the CEW guidelines. Policies and procedures should be revised as necessary, based on new information and research, to ensure that they remain effective and contribute to public confidence in use-of-force by police.

Statement of Principles

Whenever force is used by any person in Canada it shall be used in compliance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Criminal Code.

Officers should, in all instances, use an appropriate and reasonable level of force, given the totality of circumstances. 

The use of a CEW, or any use-of-force option, should be consistent with a federally or provincially recognized use-of-force framework, particularly with respect to having considered or applied de-escalation techniques or other use-of-force options, as appropriate. Prior to using a CEW, officers should consider whether de-escalation techniques or other force options have not, or will not, be effective in diffusing the situation.

Use of Conducted Energy Weapons

Only CEW models approved by the appropriate federal, provincial/territorial or municipal authority should be used.

Procedures should be in place with respect to pre-shift CEW checks and maintenance     (i.e. contacts, cartridges, batteries, spark test, etc.)

Where tactically feasible, officers should issue a verbal warning so the subject is aware that a CEW is about to be deployed.

Multiple or extended cyclings should be avoided unless a single deployment is ineffective in eliminating the risk or in allowing the officer(s) to gain physical control of the subject.

Where possible, CEW use should be avoided:

  • On a restrained subject;
  • On a woman known to be pregnant, elderly person, young child or visibly frail person;
  • On sensitive areas of the body (e.g., head, throat, genitals); and,
  • On a subject in control of a moving vehicle, bicycle, snowmobile or other conveyance.

Where operationally feasible, medical assistance should be sought when a situation necessitates multiple or extended cyclings of a CEW. Medical assistance should be sought when an individual has any apparent injuries, is in obvious distress, or requests medical assistance.

Training

Police services should establish a training policy, including minimum training requirements for officers authorized to deploy a CEW; for those officers who supervise officers who carry a CEW; and those officers authorized to provide CEW training courses.

The training policy should ensure:

  • All use-of-force training is documented and meets the training requirements established by the appropriate federal, provincial/territorial, municipal authority;
  • Police officers employing CEWs operationally and CEW trainers/instructors receive regular and documented recertification;
    • Two years is the recommended minimum.
  • All aspects of CEW training, including basic training, re-certification and remedial training, is reviewed on a regular basis to ensure it is current, relevant and consistent.

Testing

CEWs in police inventories should undergo regular testing. 

Only those CEWs that test within approved operating parameters should be used for field deployment.

Any CEW that has been used proximal to an incident resulting in death or serious injury should be immediately sent for testing, while respecting appropriate legislated police service obligations or practices related to such investigations.

Supervision

Each police service should have policies and procedures describing supervisory duties with regard to requirements for monitoring CEW storage, maintenance, reporting and use.

Police services should have policies and procedures to:

  • Ensure that officers meet all training and recertification requirements;
  • Maintain an accurate inventory of all devices, including the operational status and current location of each CEW;
  • Establish a system to track CEW product notifications and, as necessary, notify all CEW users; and
  • Ensure that officers conduct appropriate pre-shift and post-shift CEW checks and maintenance and submit a report in all instances where a CEW is deployed.

Reporting

Police services should establish and maintain a comprehensive reporting system that captures CEW use.

Supervisors of police officers employing CEWs operationally should receive training on how to monitor their subordinates for, and report on instances of, excessive force and appropriate individual member performance in CEW-related use-of-force incidents.

Police officers should, in all instances where a CEW is deployed, submit a use-of-force report.  The use-of-force report should include all relevant information on the incident such as surroundings, subject behaviour, officer perceptions and other considerations.

Reports on CEW use, in an appropriate form, should be available to the public.