New Brunswick

Codiac RCMP update on carbines shows slow progress

Supt. Paul Beauchesne issued a statement Wednesday after updating the Codiac Regional Policing Authority on the installation of racks in cruisers for carbines and officer training on the weapons.

Supt. Paul Beauchesne issued statement Wednesday updating carbine training, rack installation

Superintendent of the Codiac RCMP Paul Beauchesne (RCMP website)
The revelation RCMP cars in the Moncton region are being outfitted with gun racks to hold weapons several reviews have suggested officers should have had at their disposal years ago has made the event tough to sell as a good news story.

Facing by criticism the RCMP has dawdled in properly arming and training officers with patrol carbines following last year's murder of three officers in Moncton, Superintendent Paul Beauchesne issued a public statement Wednesday evening saying progress is being made.

The statement, first delivered to the Codiac Regional Policing Authority, does not mention the labour code charges RCMP are due to face in court July 9, alleging the force failed to properly train, equip and supervise officers before the June 4, 2014 shootings by Justin Bourque. Constables Dave Ross, Fabrice Gevaudan and Doug Larche were killed that night and two others, Darlene Goguen and Eric Dubois, were injured.

'A sufficient number'

"I can tell you that the installation of carbine racks in our police cars is taking place. A number are being installed now and by the end of this week a majority of our cars will have carbine racks. As the racks arrive they are being installed with the priority being our marked patrol cars," said Beauchesne.

Beauchesne's statement did not address why the gun racks were only being installed now and left vague how many of the weapons that fit in those racks have been acquired saying it is "a sufficient number."

"I will not make that number public as I do not want to share that information with the criminal element in our community," he said.

RCMP Supt. Beauchesne says the majority of cruisers will have carbine racks installed by Friday. On June 4th, 2014, carbines were not available to first responders. (CBC)
Carbines, which are high powered mid sized rifles, have been at the centre of RCMP officer safety concerns since the shooting deaths of four Mounties in Mayerthorpe Alberta in 2005 and two Mounties in Spiritwood Saskatchewan in 2006.

Both incidents, like Moncton, involved officers being confronted at a distance with a rifle. Following the Spiritwood shootings a written finding was issued to the RCMP declaring that "the suspect's firearm capability in relation to the firearm capability of the officers entering the shooting area" had presented a "hazard" to the officers.

That was followed by a number of recommendations from different quarters for the RCMP to outfit officers with carbines, which are more manageable than rifles and allow for more accurate shooting at greater distances than shotguns and pistols.

Bogged down in procurement

Among those recommendations was one from Alberta Associate Chief Justice Daniel Pahl who headed a review into the Mayerthorpe shootings and delivered his report in March 2011.

"RCMP members should be appropriately armed. The availability of patrol carbines for use by general duty members would increase response capabilities above the current shotgun and pistol deployment," wrote Judge Pahl.

In his own review of the Moncton shootings retired RCMP Assistant Commissioner Alphonse MacNeil detailed how, although a consensus had developed by 2011 that carbines were needed to enhance the safety of  RCMP officers who came under attack, acquiring them got bogged down in procurement and budget issues. In his report, he marvelled that months after the Moncton shootings the weapons had still not been widely distributed.

"The time it took to roll out the carbine project, including the training and delivery of the weapons to members of the RCMP has taken far too long," wrote MacNeil.

"In October, 2014, there are frontline members of the RCMP who still do not have the training and access to the carbine."

Training ongoing

The night of June 4, 2014, no Codiac front-line officers were trained to use carbines, or had access to them. The carbines that were acquired by the detachment were kilometres away at CFB Gagetown for the first-ever round of training in their use.

Twelve months later, Beauchesne's statement said some officers have yet to receive the training.

"Training of our members on the carbines is ongoing and the members identified for the next round of training courses know exactly when they are scheduled to attend," he said.

Beauchesne was not commenting on his statement Thursday but it is certain progress on the carbine issue in Moncton will be welcome by officers, many of whom told MacNeil the weapons would have made a positive difference had they been available last year.

Less certain is whether deploying them now represents a success, as suggested by Beauchesne, or a failure. It's an issue likely to surface when the RCMP faces the labour code allegations in July.


Robert Jones


Robert Jones has been a reporter and producer with CBC New Brunswick since 1990. His investigative reports on petroleum pricing in New Brunswick won several regional and national awards and led to the adoption of price regulation in 2006.


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