How police officers are trained to de-escalate

The Special Investigations Unit continues to investigate after a man was shot by Sudbury Police over the weekend.
Stavropoulos also randomly attacked people in the Sudbury transit terminal with knives in April 2018. He told police at the time it was due to cannabis-induced psychosis, but then later admitted that was a lie. (Sophie Houle-Drapeau/Radio-Canada)

The Special Investigations Unit continues to investigate after a man was shot by Sudbury Police over the weekend.

On Sunday night, police were called to the downtown transit terminal.

According to the city, a man was armed with two knives and tried to gain access to the transit security office. After an altercation, police ended up shooting the man.

The man was taken to hospital and no update has been given on his status.

Constable Alain Gagnon has been policing for 18 years and since 2014 he's been a use of force instructor with the Greater Sudbury Police.

He says officers are trained to start assessing situations like this to try and defuse them.

"[The officer's] goal and in their training they're told from day one [is] using force is the last resort," he said.

"They're trained to use the least amount of force as possible in order to try and deal with the situation."

Gagnon says officers are trained to be empathetic.

Constable Alain Gagnon is a Use of Force instructor with Greater Sudbury Police. Every officer had to undergo eight hours of de-escalation and crisis intervention training this year (Angela Gemmill/CBC)

"They're trying to slow things down and that calm assertiveness becomes very important," he said.

"But at the same time, in certain situations they have to use that good command presence. They have to want to make sure the individual understands what is expected of them in a particular scenario."

If a suspect has a weapon or is in a public area, Gagnon says the officer may have to act differently.

"Sometimes if you're dealing with an event where you have a lot of people at a particular scene … then the officers will obviously have to probably expedite things," he said.

"You may not have as much time as possible to deal with that."

As for when an officer uses a gun, Gagnon says that's only done in a case where the officer is trying to stop a threat.

"They believe that a particular individual is likely to cause serious injury or death to somebody else," he said.

"Our focus is to stop the threat, to try and resolve this so nobody else can get hurt."