Rifles for police comes down to money vs. safety?
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.