Gunning for change

Published on January 15, 2016

Summerside Police Constable  Ricky MacLeod holds a carbine rifle MacLeod teaches P.E.I. police to use these high-powered weapons.

©Photo courtesy Summerside Police Services

Every single police vehicle in Charlottetown needs to carry the high-powered carbine rifle, says one city councillor.

Bob Doiron, who has worked with UPEI police for the past 29 years and has some experience with the city force, said it’s a life-and-death matter.

Doiron also sits on Charlottetown’s protective and emergency services committee.

It would cost approximately $15,000 to $20,000 to equip each of the vehicles with the carbine.

The rifle runs about $2,500, and there are between six and eight vehicles on the road on any given shift, Doiron said.

That’s just the rifle.

The cost doesn’t include ammunition or training police officers on using the weapon.

RELATED: Const. Ricky MacLeod teaching P.E.I. police to use carbine rifles

Doiron said he first brought the issue up long ago.

Nothing has happened yet, so the councillor brought it up again during council’s regular public meeting this month.

“I’m frustrated sometimes at how things work,’’ he said Thursday. “It takes so many steps to get these things pushed through.’’

Each department is in the process of putting together annual budgets leading up to the city budget address in March.

Doiron said a retired police officer in his ward brought the issue to his attention when he was going door to door prior to the most recent civic election.

“This was one of his concerns, that city police didn’t have the capabilities of reacting in an immediate manner to the threat of a long-range gun.’’

All officers carry a pistol, and Doiron said rifles are available, but they’re stored at the police station and there isn’t always time to go back for them.

The issue of carbines for police in Canada got international attention following the June 2014 shooting in Moncton where three RCMP officers were killed and two others wounded.

RCMP officers asked for the carbines but criticized the force for taking so long to supply them.

An independent review called for better access to shotguns and rifles.

Carbines are considered accurate up to 300 meters.

Summerside Police Services now has them and the Kensington police force is equipped.

All RCMP detachments in P.E.I. are now equipped with carbines.

“I want officers to have the capability to have the tools to be able to act to an immediate threat (so) I’m pushing this forward,’’ Doiron said. “As a policeman, when you get a call, especially a gun call, you don’t know what you’re going to face.

“You want to be able to protect the citizens of Charlottetown. If police officers don’t have the tools and can’t perform their duties at the top level, that is a concern.’’

The Guardian did reach out to Police Chief Paul Smith, but he wasn’t immediately available for comment on Thursday.