Canadian City Experiments with Unarmed Cops

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2016 Saskatoon Police Service Award of Excellence, Photo by Banque du Canada

In Saskatoon, Canada, the city’s board of police commissioners has agreed to put a small number of unarmed officers on the streets in a “different tier of policing,”reports the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBS). The four new “alternative response officers” responsible for a wide range of duties. from connecting vulnerable people to available support, and regularly engaging with businesses and citizens to build community relationships, will be deployed in a one-year pilot project.  “They’re going to be tasked with delivering public safety programming in instances where an armed police officer isn’t required,” the Saskatoon inspector of special projects Darren Pringle told the board.

Troy Cooper, the police chief of Saskatoon, capital of the western Canadian province of Saskatchewan, told CBC News reporters that he supported the pilot project. “We heard from the community about what they wanted in response, and reimagining the role of the police, [the alternative officers] fit that bill very cleanly.”

While the main point of these officers is to connect to the community and provide relief for police who are on the beat, other duties could include investigative support — like guarding crime scenes from the public to protect against tampering — to enforcement support like helping traffic officers. 

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