‘It can hap­pen here’

Summerside Po­lice Ser­vices buys car­bines for of­fi­cers

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE PROVINCE - nmacphee@jour­nal­pi­oneer.com

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.”

SUB­MIT­TED BY SUMMERSIDE PO­LICE SER­VICES

Const. Craig Mur­phy, fol­low­ing a train­ing ses­sion, uses gloves while dis­man­tling one of the car­bine ri­fles

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