Calgary police add less-lethal weapons to officers' arsenal

In an effort to better diffuse high-risk situations, the Calgary Police Service is adding less-lethal options to its arsenal.

Program is being implemented to help save lives in high-risk situations, police say

Calgary police get less-lethal option

5 years ago
Duration 0:40
Calgary police get less-lethal option

In an effort to better diffuse high-risk situations, the Calgary Police Service is adding a less-lethal option to its arsenal.

As part of the Patrol Less Lethal program, trained officers are now using the single-shot, 37-mm ARWEN ACE-T less-lethal launcher, which fires an ARWEN AR-1 impact baton.

ARWEN is an acronym that stands for Anti-Riot Weapon ENfield. The ACE fires less-lethal rounds made of plastic.

Members of the CPS tactical team have been using the launcher since 2008 and they will now be used by front-line officers. 

Use of the weapon began this week and will be phased in over the summer months, with 40 launchers being distributed to trained officers citywide. By the end of next year, 160 frontline officers will have been trained across the city and 80 systems will be available.

Calgary police Sgt. Dan Fraser demonstrates the ARWEN ACE-T less-lethal launcher on Thursday. (Francois Joly/CBC)

The weapon allows officers to create distance between themselves and a high-risk person.

"[This] gives us more time, which provides officers more options in order to deal with high-risk persons in crisis, so we can employ other tactics and other options, such as communication, de-escalation," said Staff Sgt. Jason Bobrowich, the Patrol Less Lethal program lead.

The goal, said Bobrowich, is to resolve situations with the least amount of force necessary.

Getting hit by a projectile will hurt, however, as the impact is about 1.5 times greater than "being hit by a baseball going 100 miles an hour," said Bobrowich.

The ACE is effective at a range of about 20 metres, he added, which is much farther than a Taser.

Rather than penetrate a target like a bullet, Bobrowich said the projectiles are designed to cause pain, increasing compliance.

The ARWEN ACE-T less lethal launcher now being used by Calgary police front-line officers. (Francois Joly/CBC)

With files from Radio-Canada's Audrey Neveu