On Wednesday, the Calgary Police Service announced an independent review of its use of lethal force following a difficult year for police in which Calgary saw the highest number of police-involved shootings of any major Canadian city. Five of the shootings were fatal and are under review by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team. All of the incidents are detailed in a special investigation by the Calgary Journal, located here.
The review, to be conducted by retired Superior Court Justice Neil Wittmann, will not assign individual fault but will instead tackle systemic issues that led to lethal use of force.
Wittman has 50 years of legal experience, including legal practice in criminal and civil law and 18 years as a Superior Court Justice. He will be consulting with stakeholders, experts and CPS members during his review.
There’s no single training method that details exactly how officers should respond to violent situations. Mount Royal University justice studies professor Doug King says CPS is trained to assess and respond to each situation individually, using in-the-moment decision making.
“People need to understand a police officer isn’t trained in terms of how to use force in every particular instance,” King says. “So there’s a fair amount of discretion that has to go in and judgement happening.”
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