There has recently been some public discussion about our patrol carbine (rifle) and we want to provide some context. We strongly agree with the commentary that police shouldn’t become militarized. That would go against the way in which we strive to connect with and serve our community.
However, we must be prepared to protect our community, including during weapons incidents, whether that’s a person barricaded in a house with a long gun or a group of people plotting a mass shooting. We believe our citizens expect us to be prepared to effectively and efficiently handle these high-risk situations. We also we also have an obligation to our officers under the Nova Scotia Occupational Health & Safety Act to ensure they’re adequately equipped and trained to do their jobs.
We planned to purchase our new carbines prior to the tragic situation in Moncton. In fact, we’ve had carbines at HRP since the early 2000s. We’ve tripled our armament over the last four years and here’s why:
- We replaced outdated firearms (shotguns and P90s) from the early 2000s.
- We increased the number of carbines available in our Training Section to prevent us from removing operational firearms from the frontline for training purposes.
- We equipped 14 additional Emergency Response Team (ERT) members with carbines when we enhanced our ERT deployment strategy in 2014.
It’s also worth noting that:
- Our deployment model for long guns has remained largely unchanged since their introduction within HRP about a decade and a half ago.
- Outside of ERT, only select officers on each shift are specially trained to access and use the carbines.
- Our approach is in step with other police agencies across the country.
- The carbines are just one tool in our tool kit to be used in certain circumstances and in concert with less lethal tools. They also involve strong oversight.
It may be shocking for people to grasp that the incidents we’re seeing around the world (San Bernadino, California; Paris; Brussels) and closer to home (Mayerthorpe, AB; Montreal; Ottawa; Moncton) could happen here in Halifax. We’ve been very fortunate to date that we have averted several significant incidents where people have had the ability and intent to do serious harm to many citizens in our community – the planned mass shooting at Halifax Shopping Centre in 2015 is one example. It’s a sad, stark, cold reality. Unfortunately, we don’t control the people intent on doing harm to others and we must be prepared for such high-risk situations – our approach is based on need, not want.
Police work by its nature requires police agencies to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. With that in mind, our officers must be adequately trained and equipped for their own protection and that of our community.