Manitoba

Brandon police unveil new $400K armoured rescue vehicle

The Brandon Police Service now has an armoured rescue vehicle at its disposal.

Vehicle to be available to police forces across southwest Manitoba

Brandon police unveil the service's new armoured rescue vehicle at a news conference on Thursday. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

The Brandon Police Service now has an armoured rescue vehicle. 

The force unveiled the almost $400,000 ARV at a news conference on Thursday. While it will be stationed in Brandon, about 200 kilometres west of Winnipeg, it's expected to be used by several other police services in southwestern Manitoba. 

"The armoured factor allows us to get closer if there is a firefight or if there is any sort of weapons used, firearms used," said Brandon police Chief Wayne Balcaen.

"That will allow us to get in a little bit closer to a situation."

Balcaen said calls involving firearms, standoffs and other high-risk situations involving the city's tactical response team have increased over the last several years in Brandon, a city of about 50,000 people.

The vehicle is equipped with ballistic armour and can carry up to 10 officers at a time. It's similar in appearance to the armoured rescue vehicle used by Winnipeg police.  

"It is definitely a preventative measure," Balcaen said. 

The vehicle can carry 10 officers at a time, Brandon's police chief says. (Riley Laychuk/CBC )

The province funded the vehicle through the federal Proceeds of Crime Fund.

"It's really like an insurance policy," Justice Minister Cliff Cullen said. "You buy an insurance policy, you hope you never need it.

"But sooner or later, you are going to have to call on that insurance policy, and sooner or later, police officers will use this tool to their advantage as well." 

Balcaen said his force, like others with similar vehicles, has faced criticism about the appearance or suggestion that they promote a more offensive or militarized police service. 

"It is not armed with any weapons," he said.

"It is strictly, as the name says, an armoured rescue vehicle. We are not using it for militarization or to use in any offensive matter." 

The vehicle will be stored at Assinboine Community College's police training facility, which Brandon police also use for some training, until a more permanent place at the city's police station is found.  

Wayne Balcaen, Brandon's police chief, says the vehicle will be available for other police agencies to use throughout southwest Manitoba. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

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