Further to the editorial, “Chase Worth Another Look,” printed in the Brandon Sun on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014, I wish to thank the publisher and managing editor for allowing me space to offer the following comments.
These comments are meant to educate people on our role in such situations, and to ensure that both the public and the media are aware of the seriousness in which we treat such matters.
Members of the Brandon Police Service are sworn to uphold the law and protect the citizens of our community. For us, community safety is the highest order priority. In the execution of our duty, we realize that we are under public scrutiny and this is something that we accept as a natural fact of our profession.
Regrettably, there are persons in our society that do not consider others. There are people who allegedly steal from others, break into other people’s property and at times run from the police. Such were the circumstances that members of the Brandon Police Service faced on Jan. 2, 2014.
The decision to pursue is not one that is taken lightly. When logistically and physically possible, we attempt other means to bring such events to a safe and quick conclusion. Our members attempted to end this pursuit as it entered our city near 34th Street and Victoria Avenue by the use of a tire deflation device. The attempt to end the pursuit in this manner was unsuccessful.
The Brandon Police Service has a very clear policy on pursuits, which is reviewed annually by all of our members through their respective inspectors and staff sergeants. During any pursuit, especially including this one, the staff sergeant constantly monitors what is taking place and can end the pursuit at any time they feel that they are not getting enough information on what is going on, as well as being mindful of the safety of the public. At the same time the sergeant (field supervisor) is on the road monitoring the pursuit giving direction and guidance.
Our policy is clear on the manner in which a pursuit unfolds, in that there is a primary vehicle involved and a secondary vehicle following closely behind to act as the communicator along the pursuit route. We expect the field supervisor to shadow the pursuit and to be in position to be at the termination point.
We also expect other members to be aware of the situation and, only if available and required, to take on a role of either taking over a pursuit or being on hand at the termination point. This is exactly what took place on the date in question and this is what our review of this matter has concluded.
As for one of our police officers being in an accident, this matter is under review. The preliminary information that has come to me is that the officer was attempting to monitor the direction of the pursuit and to be available to assist if required. Instead of hitting a vehicle in front of him, when he knew that an accident was inevitable, the officer chose to put himself at risk by steering into a pole. This investigation continues.
The actions of the members of the Brandon Police Service in regard to this pursuit have been reviewed. We review all pursuits, use-of-force incidents and accidents with police vehicles. In fact, we review all major incidents we are involved in. We examine these incidents against our policies and best practices, as well as to use the incidents as an opportunity to learn from our actions. Where applicable, corrective action is taken.
At the end of each year, we conduct a further review of all incidents we are involved in to determine if any trends are developing and whether there is a need to address further training or policy amendments.
It is very clear to our members what their roles are and are not in terms of pursuits. They are highly trained and dedicated professionals who, if you ask them, would much sooner prefer people to pull over and give up. I have, over the course of my 34 years in law enforcement, personally been involved in my share of pursuits. They are not exciting. They are nerve-racking experiences that I would have much rather avoided.
Another unfortunate part of our profession is that we do not know what we are facing when the pursuit finally does come to an end. Are there weapons in the vehicle? Will they be used against us? As a result, at the termination point of this pursuit, our members executed a high-risk vehicle takedown under the guidance of the platoon staff sergeant and sergeant. In a high-risk takedown, it is best to have superiority of numbers to ensure that arrests are done safely for our members and for the suspects involved.
The high-risk takedown was very well captured by your newspaper’s photographer. When I saw the photo in your paper, I recognized right away a well-executed high-risk takedown. I should note that when this takedown was executed, our colleagues from the RCMP blocked southbound traffic on the Eastern Access Route in order to address the safety of the public. Another RCMP member and car assisted with the takedown at the termination point.
As the chief of police, I want the citizens of this community to know we take these matters very seriously and that their safety is the most important consideration for us.
Ian R. Grant
Chief of Police, Brandon Police Service