Ri­fles for po­lice comes down to money vs. safety?

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - EDITORIAL -

The news that a mem­ber of Char­lot­te­town City Coun­cil is push­ing hard to have po­lice of­fi­cers armed with car­bine ri­fles likely comes as a sur­prise to those on both sides of the ar­gu­ment. Per­haps half the cit­i­zens of the cap­i­tal city were sur­prised that of­fi­cers don’t al­ready have them and the other half might say they are un­nec­es­sary in this city where ma­jor in­ci­dents in­volv­ing guns are rare.

All of­fi­cers have re­volvers as stan­dard is­sue. Likely, few po­lice have drawn their weapon on duty and fewer still have ever fired it to con­trol a sit­u­a­tion. One re­cent case that comes to mind was the trou­bled young man be­hind the Char­lot­te­town Mall where a po­lice of­fi­cer was jus­ti­fied in fir­ing his re­volver.

We may ask, aren’t re­volvers enough fire­power? Why is there a need for high-pow­ered ri­fles? The tragic in­ci­dent where three RCMP of­fi­cers were mur­dered in Monc­ton in June 2014 an­swers that ques­tion. But it took more than a year af­ter that tragedy be­fore RCMP fi­nally re­ceived their car­bines and train­ing in how to use them. It was an is­sue of money.

P.E.I. po­lice forces in Sum­mer­side and Kens­ing­ton have car­bines. Is­land RCMP have ri­fles as well. The course on how to use them is taught at the At­lantic Po­lice Academy in Sum­mer­side.

Char­lot­te­town po­lice do have some ri­fles but they are kept at the sta­tion and brought to a scene as needed. By that time, it might be too late. They need to be with of­fi­cers on pa­trol.

Is­lan­ders might not want to ac­knowl­edge the need for our po­lice forces to carry car­bines, lest it shat­ter some idyl­lic im­age of this quiet, pas­toral prov­ince. Some might have the lux­ury of hav­ing such high ideals. Po­lice do not. They need to re­spond as nec­es­sary to what­ever emer­gency might arise. We ex­pect them to pro­tect us and they should have that abil­ity.

Is it a cost is­sue for the city which feels it needs to place its re­sources else­where? Are there sta­tis­tics to prove that ri­fles are not nec­es­sary? Is it putting costs over po­lice safety?

Cit­i­zens need to know the an­swers and the city should pro­vide them. We don’t want to see our of­fi­cers put in a life-or-death sit­u­a­tion where crim­i­nals have the up­per hand.

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