Saskatchewan

Regina police eye purchase of tactical armoured truck

Expert says it's part of a trend towards the militarization of Canadian police forces

Regina police North Central shooting possible

In 2013, police announced officers were going to be trained on using the RCMP's tactical armoured vehicle. (Matt Howard/CBC)

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The Regina Police Service is eyeing the purchase of a tactical armoured truck — a piece of equipment one expert says is part of a trend towards the militarization of Canadian police forces.

The request for a "tactical rescue vehicle" was revealed in error by civic financial officials as part of millions of dollars worth of capital expenditures that needed approval in advance of the 2018 budget. 

On that list, officials included $2.6 million in police equipment, including $750,000 to buy enhanced body armour and a "tactical rescue vehicle," along with new radios and other vehicles.

These items were removed by the finance and administrative committee.

"It's pretty clear that it shouldn't have been in this report and it's part of the police budget that you will see later," said Coun. Barbara Young.

Police are being tight lipped about the armoured vehicle until the proposal reaches the board of police commissioners, then council, for budget scrutiny.

Mayor and police board chairman Michael Fougere also declined to comment.

Tactical Armoured Vehicle

RCMP divisions across Canada own armoured vehicles. (Regina Police Service)

Questions about cost, community impact

"What municipalities and police services need to do is really think carefully about what they are not buying by spending the money on this kind of equipment and also whether or not it might have a negative effect on police-community relations," said Frank Cormier, a criminology professor at the University of Manitoba.

"Building relationships with the community, we do need to be careful when we start looking more militarized and sort of more scary and aggressive, that can really go against this idea that you know, the police are just like citizens like everyone else."

He said the militarization of civilian police services began in the U.S when retired military equipment began to be picked up by municipal forces. Now, many Canadian forces have added armoured trucks to their arsenal of equipment.

Ken Kane

Sgt. Ken Kane with the Saskatoon Police Service tactical unit says its armoured vehicle has been used to rescue people trapped by gunfire. (CBC News)

Sgt. Ken Kane, a tactical unit sergeant with the Saskatoon Police Service, said its armoured vehicle was a game changer for the force when they got it back in 2012. 

He said it's been used in a majority of this year's tactical operations and allows officers, medics and negotiators to get closer to a crisis situation. 

Kane believes it has also saved lives. In 2014, police used the vehicle to rescue people trapped by gunfire. 

"It actually took a couple of rounds. You just don't know when that event's going to occur."

He said recently, the Saskatoon Police Service sent their armoured truck to Regina to help officers who were being shot at from the back and front of a residence, and needed a second vehicle in addition to the RCMP's. 

Common equipment

Saskatoon acquired its armoured vehicle in 2012. Other municipalities with armoured vehicles include Winnipeg, Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, London, Sault Ste. Marie, Peel, Durham and Ottawa.

A tactical rescue vehicle is not new to the streets of Regina. In 2013, police announced members were beginning training to use the RCMP's armoured rescue vehicle.

At the time, police said such a vehicle could be deployed when certain tactical situations called for it, such as there being a suspect barricaded with a firearm or the rare case of an active shooter. 

Cormier said there's an argument to be made that the vehicles can contribute to the safety of officers and members, however, there's a lack of evidence in Canada that these vehicles have made a difference in tactical situations.

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