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Charlottetown police force mourns the loss of two colleagues in Fredericton, N.B.

Charlottetown Deputy Police Chief Brad MacConnell and Const. Melissa Craswell lower the flag at police headquarters to half-mast following the shooting in Fredericton, N.B., Friday that left four people dead, including two police officers.
Charlottetown Deputy Police Chief Brad MacConnell and Const. Melissa Craswell lower the flag at police headquarters to half-mast following the shooting in Fredericton, N.B., Friday that left four people dead, including two police officers. - Dave Stewart

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Charlottetown Deputy Police Chief Brad MacConnell said hearts were very heavy Friday among the officers and staff.

“It’s a small policing community,’’ MacConnell said. “A lot of our guys know those officers (killed). It hits home, for sure.’’

Two Fredericton police officers — Const. Robb Costello and Const. Sarah Burns — were among four people who died Friday morning in a residential area on the city’s north side.

“It’s certainly a reminder of how unpredictable policing can be, no matter what the environment or the location. I equate the quality of life in Fredericton to that of Prince Edward Island, and when you see incidents like that happening (in the Maritimes) it’s just a reminder of how unpredictable policing can be.’’

The flag at Charlottetown Police Services was lowered to half-mast in memory of the slain officers.

“It’s certainly a reminder of how unpredictable policing can be, no matter what the environment or the location. I equate the quality of life in Fredericton to that of Prince Edward Island, and when you see incidents like that happening (in the Maritimes) it’s just a reminder of how unpredictable policing can be.’’
Charlottetown Deputy Police Chief Brad MacConnell

MacConnell said officers in Charlottetown and every municipality are trained for situations that involve active shooters, but there is only so much officers can do in any given moment.

“We train our officers to be in a constant state of mental readiness to assess risk no matter what the call we go to because even a noise complaint can turn into a very serious situation.

“I’m not sure what the circumstances were in Fredericton, what the initial call was, but obviously the circumstances became very dire and I’m sure they walked into a very unpredictable situation. No matter how much we train as officers to prepare for the unpredictable what this morning (in Fredericton) illustrated is how vulnerable policing can be no matter how well trained (the officers are).’’

The Guardian requested comment from Holland College’s Atlantic Police Academy, but a spokeswoman with the college said it is an active investigation so there wouldn’t be any comment.

MacConnell said the thoughts and prayers go out to the affected families from the entire Charlottetown police force.

“Absolutely, to the families and our policing community across the Maritimes, especially in Fredericton today. As I say, it’s a small policing community and an incident like this hits home to all policing, not just in the Maritimes but all across Canada.’’

The deputy chief said he reached out to his colleagues with the Fredericton police force on Friday and offered whatever support they needed.

“Eventually when the funerals are held we will send officers over for that, but we’re not sure if there’s any need for assistance at this point. But if they do need (help) due to the grieving that will have to happen within the police community over there, if we can help out in any way we certainly will.’’

Twitter.com/DveStewart

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