EDITORIAL: City police ups firepower - and about time

Published on January 11, 2017

Charlottetown City Councillors Jason Coady, left and Bob Doiron, discuss business before the start of a meeting of council. Coady is chair of the Protective Services Committee (police) while Doiron is a committee member.

©TC MEDIA/Brian McInnis

Charlottetown Coun. Bob Doiron must be feeling somewhat satisfied today. It took two years or more, but the city’s police department is now on a level playing field with other police forces across the province. Santa Claus delivered over the Christmas holidays.

A year ago Coun. Doiron went public about the need for city police to be armed with high-powered carbine rifles. He was getting frustrated. More than a year before he raised the issue at the Jan. 2016 council meeting, he was lobbying to have every police vehicle equipped with long-range rifles.

Coun. Doiron was elected in November 2014 and almost immediately he went to work on behalf of the city’s police. Coun. Doiron wasn’t a ‘civilian’ coming onto the scene and it wasn’t just a knee-jerk reaction to the June 2014 tragedy in Moncton where three RCMP officers were shot to death and two others injured by a man armed with a rifle.

Coun. Doiron is an officer with UPEI's police department since 1987. City police safety was raised during his first civic election in Nov. 2014. A retired police officer in his ward brought the rifle issue to his attention.

Even though other police departments across P.E.I. had carbines – Summerside, Kensington and RCMP - city hall dragged its heels because of costs. Money was the issue that kept rifles out of the hands of Moncton’s RCMP officers until it was too late.

Even though the projected cost was a mere $15,000 to $20,000 - as it turned out, the rifles came at no cost to the department. They arrived over the Christmas holidays from National Defence at no charge.

The important thing is that police have their rifles - another tool in the arsenal to keep officers safe and residents secure. The police department budget will have to pay for things like training, ammunition, slings for the weapons and equipment so they can be placed in the police cruisers. Let’s hope city council won’t haggle over these minimal costs.

There is reluctance among some municipalities to have its officers properly armed. Moncton RCMP had asked for rifles and it took a tragedy before help arrived. Even then, it was still a year after the three officers died before rifles were delivered and officers trained.

Charlottetown is a capital city. There are high profile targets that could come under attack. Standard issue pistols may not be able to handle certain situations. You can deal with emergencies from a far greater distance with a carbine than with a pistol.

One never knows when a shooting incident might occur and police must be ready and trained to best serve the residents of Charlottetown.

Coun. Doiron wasn’t being overly dramatic when he suggested it’s a life-and-death matter. “As a policeman, when you get a call, especially a gun call, you don’t know what you’re going to face.”

Police must be able to protect citizens. If police officers don’t have the tools and can’t perform their duties, it is a concern.

It’s one less concern today.