Hamilton police killed 60 animals in the line of duty

Hamilton police officers shot and killed 60 animals in the line of duty last year, accounting for 97 per cent of the times officers fired their guns.

Nearly every time officers fire their guns, it's to euthanize an animal

In the majority of times Hamilton police officers fired their guns last year, it was to shoot a deer.

Hamilton police officers shot and killed 60 animals in the line of duty last year, accounting for 97 per cent of the times officers fired their guns.

Animals euthanized by year

2013: 62 incidents of firearms discharged, 60 animals euthanized 

2012: 46 incidents, 45 were animals

2011: 43 incidents, 42 were animals

2010: 42 incidents, 41 were animals

Hamilton Police Services officers discharged their firearms 62 times in 2013. In almost every case, officers euthanized animals that had either been hit by cars or impaled themselves on fences, said Sgt. Jon Alsbergas.

“Deer is the most common by far,” Alsbergas said, although last year, two Hamilton officers shot a moose. They were transporting a prisoner to a northern community when they hit the moose and shot the animal to put it out of its misery.

Alsbergas shared the statistics about police use of force during a police services board meeting Tuesday.

The number of times officers used force decreased in 2013, he told members. There were 238 incidents last year compared to 311 the year before.

Last June, police shot and killed Steve Mesic. The Special Investigations Unit cleared the officers involved of wrongdoing. There will be an inquest later this year.

Alsbergas didn't mention the Mesic incident in his presentation, but did mention it in his report. Fifty people were injured or required medical attention, including mental health assessments, in 2013, the report said. While most were "minor in nature," in one case, "the subject was fatally shot by police."

The 14-year average for use of force is 264 incidents. That includes every time officers point their guns, fire their guns, or use conductive energy weapons, often known by the brand name Taser.

Here are some highlights:

  • Most use of force incidents (99 of 238) involved officers pointing their firearms. That’s down from 145 in 2012.
  • Batons were used seven times to strike a subject in 2013. In four other instances, officers used their batons as a "point of leverage" to "depress a pressure point on a subject."
  • In 2012, there were five dog bites via the canine unit. In 2013, there were none.
  • Officers used conductive energy weapons 41 times in 2013. That’s down from 49 the year before.
  • Fifty people were injured or required medical attention after police interaction last year, and 11 officers were injured. In 10 cases, the injury was either self inflicted or happened before police arrived. The overall number is about the same as 2012.
  • In 50 cases, people were carrying or had a weapon close by. These include guns, knives, axes and hammers. In less common cases, the weapons included machetes, scissors, shovels, golf clubs and a "wooden toy car," the report says.


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