By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA) - Calls for change were amplified Monday after a report detailed 64 people were shot by Canadian police and 32 of those were killed in the 11 months ending Nov. 30, 2021.
"I am deeply concerned by the unrelenting nature of this problem," said Temitope Oriola, a University of Alberta criminology professor who served as an advisor when the province of Alberta reviewed its Police Act.
The figures were compiled by The Canadian Press from various sources as information from police is at times difficult to obtain in a timely fashion.
The report found that not much change followed after 60 people were shot and of those 36 killed in 2020. The figures then also resulted in a call for more details to be released on police shootings.
The 2020 deaths included that of a one-year-old boy who died in the province of Ontario in December after police shot at the vehicle in which he was riding.
In both years, the majority of the mortality rates were among young men and the largest number of those was among people of color. In 17 shootings, more than 50% were Indigenous and 17% were Black.
Oriola said there is no doubt that police are forced to use firearms in some situations and the number remains low per capita compared to many other countries such as the United States.
In 81% of the shootings, weapons were involved, with 52% of people having a knife or other weapon and 31% a gun.
But Oriola said the number of police shootings is still too high.
In six shootings, police had been called to do a wellness check, that is regarding a person who is acting unstable and may exhibit a mental-health crisis and be armed with a weapon. In six of those cases, four people were killed, prompting calls for police to have better training to handle those situations, as well as better services for the mentally ill.
Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, an assistant professor in policing at the University of Toronto, said a national data base is needed to keep better track of police shootings.
“What we need is better data collection, better data reporting and more transparency from the agencies that collect this information,” he said.