Saskatoon police say an increase in officers using force is linked to a larger issue of violent drug users.
According to a 2017 report, there were 264 use of force instances recorded between Jan. 1 to Dec. 31.
It’s up 31 per cent from 2016, with 201 instances, and further still from 186 in 2015.
There are 24 different categories of force, ranging from discharging a firearm to modified restraint straps. Every officer who applies force must submit a form for review by an independent committee.
Last year, officers fired their weapons 14 times. This includes 11 instances where they had to put down an animal.
Tasers were pointed at suspects 17 times — up from 12 — and used nine times, once more than the year before.
Police also engaged in 180 vehicle pursuits over last year, compared to 149 in 2016 and 54 in 2015.
The Saskatoon Police Service noted officers are encountering and arresting more violent people because of an increase in illicit drug use.
Notably, force was used 149 times — up from 118 — while placing suspects under arrests.
The numbers trended down for force used during initial contact, searching and handcuffing, along with incarcerating. The report credits the change to an emphasis on de-escalating situations.
No one died from police force in 2017, but 110 suspects were reported injured.
Of those, 27 were hospitalized — up from 21 in 2016 — and another 101 received medical attention, up from 83.
Thirty police officers were injured. One was hospitalized, while eight received medical attention — up from three in 2016.
The independent use of force committee reviews and scrutinizes every application of force by SPS members.