Gun­ning for change

Char­lot­te­town Coun. Bob Doiron is push­ing to have ev­ery po­lice cruiser equipped with high-pow­ered car­bine ri­fles

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVE STE­WART

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.

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.

Doiron

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