Civilian Use of Force



Civilian use of force academics generally pertains to some form of security training. Provinces across Canada are enacting new legislations for security training specifically, but with wide sweeping implications towards all aspects of civilian interventions.

This has been made necessary by the number of incidents that have gone wrong and resulted in criminal charges and/or lawsuits against the agencies responsible.

In most cases, these agencies and the individuals who were hands on (eg. security officers) are able to be cleared of the criminal charges because of the obvious lack of intent. The lawsuits on the other hand, are impossible to get around and settlements can be in the millions.

In Ontario, the Patrick Shand case has caused the provincial government to enact a new Private Investigators and Security Guard's Act (Bill 159). This law is currently in place with regulations and the resultant changes being phased in over time.

These regulations and similar new laws and regulations in other provinces now include a requirement for training suited to the level of intervention offered.

While all the specifics of the required training remain to be seen, we have always advocated for sound, broad spectrum training in all related academics coupled with proper judgement training and appropriate intervention skills training for civilians and others alike.

While we tailor or customize courses for our clients on an ongoing basis, we like to see the following included in security level courses:

- Powers of Arrest and search under the Criminal Code and various provincial acts
- Elements of the offences—offence recognition, authorities and limitations
- Response to emergency situations
- By-law enforcement training where applicable
- Trespass to Property Act
- Understanding of the Use of Force Laws, models and principles
- Expectations in relation to professionalism
- Core security duties involving various acts as they apply to the specific authority
- Develop sound judgment and communication skills for conflict resolutions
- Gain a core knowledge of a security professional’s rights, responsibilities, and their appropriate enforcement authorities
- Have a working understanding of dealing with mentally disturbed persons, emotionally disturbed persons, positional asphyxia, restraint asphyxia
- Situational awareness and officer safety
- Explosive devices, bomb threats, dangerous materials
- Note taking, evidence collection, crime scene management, report writing
- Interview techniques, courtroom decorum, investigative techniques
- Judgment training in the use of force and proper procedures for arrest and control in modern security. This should include self defense, handcuffing, and care of arrested persons

We will be offering free downloadable e-books to cover each of these specific areas. As they become available we will make a contextual link in the above list,as applicable and when not already offered elsewhere on this site.

As with all material we produce on this website, these will be free to the individual for non-commercial personal use.

If you wish to make use of our material corporately, please contact us for permission and terms and conditions.

To Train or Not To Train

The decision to adequately train your security officers, or other civilian intervention specialists, or to verify that those you hire to provide your interventions have been given a level of training appropriate to the task you are assigning them to, is your first step to mitigating liability.

Next consider the instructors credentials. Any course is only as good as the instructor.

Verify that there is a written lesson plan and that the lesson plan will remain 'on record' for future reference and possible use at court.

Ensure proper paper (and computer) documentation of all aspects of the training. Including student feedback, notes on student difficulties and corrective measures taken.

Our governments for years did not require any training for security personnel (or other types of civilian intervention personnel) let alone documentation on the types, quality, and extent of such training. Individuals, corporations, and the governments themselves have paid a severe price for this in litigation.

Learn from their mistakes. Make sure your people have any and all training they could possibly need. Just because it's not legislated, doesn't mean it doesn't make good sense to consider it a requirement. Sometimes it is legislated, just not specifically.

For example, Bill C-45 is a Canadian Federal Act known as the Westray Bill which forms an amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada Section 217.1. This Act requires that all persons (placed in harm's way) receive adequate training, tools, and equipment to ensure that they can safely do the job.

Now that Act isn't aimed at security or use of force, or anything else specifically. It's meant to be wide sweeping, even all encompassing. But don't doubt for one moment that if something goes sideways any offended party- the subject, your employee, or surviving family members will use this legislation to build a case against you.

Please ensure that when civilians are being trained they are in fact being trained in civilian authorities. Too often retired or off duty officers set up training or consulting businesses and teach their clients what they where taught. The problem is that some of them are blissfully unaware of the differences between 494 and 495 powers and authorities. These lines cannot be crossed.

But our Policy and Procedures will protect us, right? Only as long as your P&P is in complete agreement with the law. No-one can 'protect' themselves from prosecution by simply telling employees to do or not do something if the law states or allows otherwise.

At the end of the day due diligence is a requirement. Make sure that your people have the training to do what you're asking them to do. Create and preserve a strong, professional, paper trail. This should include testing on academic areas (if they supposedly came with them), judgement training and testing and physical skills training and testing as needed.

"Observe and Report" type security officers and other civilian agents, can and do get dragged into altercations. They should have, at a minimum, disengagement skills training.

All civilian use of force training, both academics and physical skills training, whether security training or for other types of personnel should be considered an investment in the safety of all parties and therefore a sound mitigation strategy. All such training should be updated with refresher training at regular intervals.

Various provincial governments have or will release training courses or at least minimal training standards for security personnel working within their jurisdiction. These should be considered a starting point or a good guideline. But the best protection against civil litigation will always be taking the extra steps to protect yourself, your employees, and the public for those incidents where things do go sideways.

Today also with law enforcement agency training strictly mandated and with ever growing legislation's effecting types and levels of training for security personnel, other agencies such as by-law enforcement agencies, animal control personnel, indeed anyone who could become involved in an altercation by reason of their employment in the event of a major incident will be asked to realistically assess why they didn't provide adequate training for their people if parallel industries already have it.


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