‘It can happen here’
Summerside Police Services buys carbines for officers
Jason Blacquiere hopes he’ll never have to put the force’s latest training into action.
But the Summerside Police Services corporal said there is some relief knowing that if he has to, he knows how to use a carbine.
“You never want to use your sidearm at any point,” said Blacquiere, who has never fired his gun in the line of duty.
“It just makes it a lot safer for us in dealing with that situation from a greater distance. As an officer, a dangerous situation just became a little bit safer.”
Summerside Police Services recently purchased carbine rifles, and its officers recently spent a week being trained in their use.
Now, the 28-member force — part-time and full-time officers — is trained to use the highpowered rifle.
“The benefit is not just to the police, us having these weapons, it is a benefit to the community, too,” said Blacquiere. “In the case of the unfortunate event of an active shooter, it can be brought to an end much quicker with us having access to these weapons.”
The move is partly in response to the tragic events in June 2014 in Moncton, N.B., which resulted in the deaths of three RCMP officers.
A review exploring the RCMP’s response to Justin Bourque’s deadly shooting spree released earlier this year, urged the RCMP to quickly expedite the deployment of carbine rifles throughout the force and improve training for the short-barrelled rifle.
On P.E.I., all RCMP detachments are now equipped with carbines that arrived in the summer with training expected to be completed by the end of 2015, said Sgt. Leanne Butler, the then RCMP media RCMP spokesperson.
The Kensington police force is also equipped with the rifles.
The purchase of the rifles, which cost about $2,500 apiece, along with active shooter vests, at $800 apiece, was approved in the City of Summerside’s 2015 budget.
The vests are made of ceramic and cover the vital organs, providing added protection over the normal protective vests worn by police.
Once a departmental policy on their use and storage is adopted, each vehicle in the force’s fleet will be equipped with these vests and at least one carbine.
“It is not unusual to have to draw your weapon. But in my time here in 16 years nobody has actually had to pull the trigger, fortunately, whether that is through good luck, good tactics or a combination of both,” said Blacquiere. “How you respond to a situation can dictate the outcome.”
When asked the likelihood of ever having to use the rifle in a city Summerside’s size, Deputy Chief Sinclair Walker’s response was surprising.
“We seized one of those carbine rifles at a residence here last year (2014),” he said while Blacquiere added that various other weapons and “thousands of rounds of ammunition” were also seized that day. “To think that kind of weaponry is not in Summerside, you would be pretty naive.”
Const. Craig Murphy, following a training session, uses gloves while dismantling one of the carbine rifles