WATCH ABOVE: Calgary Police Chief Constable Roger Chaffin talks to media after the 10th officer involved-shooting in Calgary this year.
Alberta’s police watchdog is investigating an officer-involved shooting in Calgary on Tuesday that killed a 27-year-old woman. Police Chief Const. Roger Chaffin said he believes the officer acted appropriately to protect herself, her partner and the public and vowed to provide the best leadership and training to officers “given the changing nature of criminality in this city.”
“The motivating factors behind the crime…has to do with the presence of methamphetamines and opioids and the modus of crimes around those drugs,” Chaffin said when asked about the jump to 10 officer-involved shootings in 2016 compared to three in 2015. “Heavy, heavy addiction without the right sort of treatments—that forces people into crime to support that drug.
“Until we get on top of that problem, our officers are being faced with more and more chaotic situations.”
Watch below: Chief Chaffin says they are seeing a change in criminality in Calgary
Officers were called to the 1700 block of 11 Avenue S.W. for a check on welfare at around 2:30 a.m. for reports of a dispute, after a caller heard a woman screaming.
“A woman could be seen further down the avenue acting erratically, banging on car windows and building doors carrying two knives, one in each hand,” the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) said in a statement.
Chaffin said the investigation has yet to show whether this particular case was related to drugs, noting the erratic behaviours observed. He said police attend about 25,000 checks on welfare each year.
“We’ve had two particular shootings related to those types of call…Every once in a while, there’s tragic outcomes.”
ASIRT said a “confrontation” between an officer and the woman resulted in the officer firing her gun. The woman was struck and collapsed, then taken to hospital by EMS where she died.
CPS said the female officer involved in the incident was a one-year member of the service, who has the “full support” of the CPS executive and Calgary Police Association.
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“We’re not hiring soldiers,” Chaffin said. “We’re hiring people who are very reflective of what it is to be Calgarians. You can imagine for all of you, having to make that decision, what that’ll do to you.
“You have a person with just barely a year on the job who’s been put in this situation already and those are not healthy attributes for the community or our service.”
When asked why not use a Taser as opposed to a gun, Chaffin said decisions are made rapidly based on specific situations.
“A conducted energy weapon, for instance, has an effective distance where it’s most utilized. So…as soon as you come inside that area, it’s no longer effective, if you’re moving, running, the clothes you’re wearing.”
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He noted the police service encourages de-escalation techniques when dealing with chaotic situations, which have been successful in tens of thousands of calls.
“But there are those situations when an officer is confronted with certain attributes of that call where officers are left to defend themselves or others, and faced with a case of death or grievous bodily harm, we want them to defend themselves when that situation presents itself.”
Watch below: Chaffin says ‘We want them to defend themselves when that situation presents itself’
No officers or civilians were injured in the confrontation.
The Calgary Police Service said it has been directed by ASIRT to “not release details of the incident leading up to the shooting”, which they say is standard practice in a police shooting.
Chaffin said his personal opinion is for police to quickly and accurately get information out to the community, particularly in the “era of digital media.”
“But there are complexities to that, because we also don’t want to interfere with these [ASIRT] investigations. Saying something that might corrupt an investigation would undermine public confidence just as badly.”
Watch below: Chief Constable Roger Chaffin thinks information needs to be released quickly
Anyone who may have witnessed the incident and/or taken video is asked to call ASIRT at 403-592-4306.
Tuesday’s incident marks the tenth officer-involved shooting in Calgary in 2016, and the fifth that was fatal.
With files from Doug Vaessen and Erika Tucker