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What happens when a handgun is fired by police?

Last Updated Jul 14, 2015 at 5:09 pm EST

A Peel police cruiser is seen in an Aug. 2, 2007 file photo. FLICKR/Kaye

As more information comes to light about the apparent police shooting of a dog inside a Peel home, there are troubling questions about transparency and the information police make public.

Every time an officer in Ontario withdraws their weapon in the course of duty – whether they fire it or not – there is paperwork to be filled out, Toronto Police Const. Caroline de Kloet explained.

The form is known as a Use of Force report and is used by all police agencies across the province.

However, there is no legal obligation to make this information public, lawyer Daniel Brown said.

“But they do have to inform someone about it and they do have to account for it,” Brown said.

The Use of Force report falls under the Police Services Act. As per Ontario Regulation 926, “A member of a police force shall submit a report whenever the member, (a) draws a handgun in the presence of a member of the public, excluding a member of the police force who is on duty, points a firearm at a person or discharges a firearm.”

If the firearm is discharged, the Commissioner or chief of police must investigate.

The same Act governs when an officer can draw a handgun – for example, to protect against loss of life or serious bodily harm.

A police officer can also discharge their firearm to destroy an animal that is dangerous, University of Toronto professor Peter Rosenthal said.

Jennifer Loots claims her dog was shot by police inside her home. Peel Police are not saying anything about the incident. Loots plans to file complaint by the end of the week.

Here are the links to file a complaint:

Toronto Police

Peel Police

Durham Regional Police

York Regional Police


Here’s a list of how often police drew and discharged their firearms in 2014:

Toronto Police

Draw firearm: 186 times
Firearm discharge: 24 times

Peel Police

Draw firearm: 432 times
Firearm discharge: 25 times

Peel police say 23 of these 25 incidents involved an injured or dangerous animal.

York Police

Draw firearm: 125 times
Firearm discharge: Undisclosed

Durham Police

Draw firearm: 156 times
Firearm discharge: 16

Durham police say all 16 of the incidents were for animal destruction.