MILITARY RIFLES PROPOSED
Sask. police forces would have carbines
SASKATOON — A growing movement in Saskatchewan says police officers are consistently “outgunned” by criminals and need to be armed with higher-powered weapons.
Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne said that in light of the recent attacks in Ottawa and Quebec, police in this province should be equipped with carbines — the high-powered, shortened-barrelled guns often carried by emergency response teams.
“We’re not immune,” Dionne said of lone wolf terrorist attacks. “People think that just because we live in Saskatchewan we’re immune.”
Dionne is not the first to call for police to have more “effective” guns.
In the wake of the Moncton shooting last July in which three RCMP officers were killed and two severely wounded, an independent review recommended expediting carbine rollout among police.
Saskatoon Police Chief Clive Weighill said he and the Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police fully support getting semiautomatic .233-calibre carbine rifles into the hands of front-line officers.
Weighill said in events like a school shooting, carbines would be more effective because they allow for long-range accuracy not found in typical police pistols.
“You would need the longerrange weapon,” Weighill said, adding the weapons and bulletproof vests used by organized crime groups pose a threat to front-line officers.
Police say carbines are accurate up to 100 metres, while a typical pistol would only be accurate up to 25 metres.
Right now, the guns are used in Saskatchewan by tactical and emergency response teams, but are not available for other officers.
Any change to the regulations governing which guns that officers can and can’t use would have to be approved by the Saskatchewan Police Commission.
Rick Peach, the commission’s director, said he is in the process of consulting with various police boards and commissions across the province about the proposed change.
There is no word on when or if the move to carbine guns will be approved.
Sharon Polsky, the director of the Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association, said she has no problem with police wanting more accurate weapons as long they are trained and tested regularly before using them.
“It’s accurate, and if there is a violent situation they need the accuracy of the carbine,” Polsky said.
Dionne also dismissed suggestions that the move to the highpowered military rifle is a sign that police are becoming increasingly militarized.
“This is not comparable to the U.S. We’re asking for carbines. People won’t even notice them,” Dionne said.
On Monday, Prince Albert police displayed an example of a .223-calibre carbine rifle — the same gun emergency response team members are currently authorized to carry.
It fills the gap between a pistol and a rifle, said Sgt. Josh Peterson, who currently serves on the Prince Albert police tactical team.
Currently, Prince Albert officers are authorized to carry Glock .40-calibre pistols and shotguns while on patrol.
While a pistol is easy to carry on an officer’s body, it’s not as accurate as a rifle. A shotgun has a limited capacity but is not powerful at a distance. Peterson said the carbine would likely be kept inside the officer’s vehicle and would only be deployed in certain situations.