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Shots Fired: Firearm Discharges by Municipal Police in British Columbia

NCJ Number
Gazette Volume: 61 Issue: 2& 3 Dated: February/March 1999 Pages: 2-9
R Parent
Date Published
8 pages
This study explores and explains the incidents of firearm discharges by municipal police within the Canadian Province of British Columbia during a 15-year period.
The database for the research yielded data on 25 separate incidents in which municipal police had been confronted by a perceived lethal threat. All of these incidents occurred within the Province of British Columbia between January 1, 1980 through January 1, 1995. Based on this information, 25 police officers were interviewed about their involvement in the respective 25 incidents. A total of 18 police officers had killed a person in incidents where the officer discharged a firearm; 4 officers produced nonfatal wounds from discharges of their firearms; and 3 officers discharged their firearms so as to result in the potential to cause death or serious wounding, even though the individual was not harmed. Municipal police who have faced a lethal threat have been for the most part veteran officers who have been trained within British Columbia. These officers have encountered lethal threats that in many instances were directed against a police partner or against an innocent bystander. This study shows that in situations in which the suspect is behaving irrationally, the threat of the police using a firearm is often an ineffective deterrent. As an alternative to deadly force, police should be trained in less-than-lethal weapons, such as the Taser, the net, and glue gun. These devices incapacitate the suspect without inflicting serious injury. 28 references