Detention facility biometric system could save lives, Regina police say

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The Regina Police Service (RPS) says it is the first in Saskatchewan and possibly Canada to implement new technology in its detention facility that will offer real-time monitoring of detainees’ vital health metrics.


The biometric health monitoring system, which was implemented in March, will provide detainees’ heart rate and respiratory rate information to officers who will be immediately notified in the event of “anomalies that may indicate medical distress,” according to RPS.


“This proactive approach enables swift intervention, reducing the risk of fatality and ensuring timely medical assessments for detained individuals,” an RPS news release said.


A decision to implement the system came following the death of a man who was a detainee in August 2023. After the man’s death, RPS said a comprehensive review of detainee care practices was conducted.


“Ensuring the safety and well-being of individuals in our custody is a top priority for the Regina Police Service,” Chief of Police Farooq Sheikh said in the release. “The introduction of biometric monitoring represents a proactive and innovative approach to detainee care, aligning with our commitment of leveraging technology to enhance public safety.”


Primary care paramedic Steve Brown said many detainees are under the influence of certain drugs that can lead to respiratory failure while in their care.


“We are unfortunately quite often in the possession of individuals that are often heavily sedated by different types of drugs, most often by fentanyl and other opiates and due to those types of drugs, we experience a lot of respiratory arrests that happen within our care,” Brown said.


According to Brown, many people will consume the drugs in their possession immediately before they are taken into custody or they have them somewhere on their body where officers are unable to find them.


He said that leads to regular medical emergencies in RPS’ detention facility.


“Our system here has already been wildly successful in being able to detect those [medical emergencies] as it will let us know exactly the number of respirations per minute that our detainees are having,” Brown said.


According to Brown, that allows them to detect and respond to cardiac arrests and events wehere people stop breathing much faster than before.


A full video with Brown explaining the system can be seen here.

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