New Brunswick

Fredericton police chief defends need for armoured police vehicle

Police Chief, Leanne Fitch of Fredericton's Police Force, says light armoured police vehicle a necessity for capital city.

Fredericton's police chief speaks of the need for an armoured rescue vehicle

The Fredericton Police Force's request for a new light armoured vehicle costing almost $350,000 was approved by Fredericton city council Monday evening. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Fredericton's Police Chief, Leanne Fitch, is defending the force's decision to obtain a new light-armoured police vehicle for New Brunswick's capital city.

Earlier this week, Fredericton councillors approved the city's $113.2-million budget for 2017, which included nearly $350,000 so the Fredericton Police Force could add an "armoured rescue vehicle" to its operations.

"We have to be prepared for a worst-case scenario," said Fitch, during an interview with Fredericton's Information Morning Show on Thursday.

"This is a piece of equipment we hope we don't have to use, it's certainly something that's not going to be out on random patrol."

Fredericton Police Chief, Leanne Fitch defends Force's need for an armoured police vehicle. (CBC)

Fitch is aware of the public's concern over militarization in policing across Canada and North America, as well as the force's latest purchase.  

"The complexities of policing has changed around the world and Fredericton is not immune to the changes," she said

How will the vehicle be used?

Fitch said the vehicle, which contains four-wheel drive capability and is good for both rural and urban environments, will be used for clear deployment strategies throughout the area.

"When people hear the term 'light armoured vehicle' they conjure up the idea of a military type vehicle," she said.

This year alone, the Fredericton Police Force received 40 emergency response team calls up from an average of about 30 calls a year.

Fitch said it's important these emergency response teams receive safe transportation, while encountering serious incidents, using the example of a hostage.

"What happens elsewhere also impacts our community," she said. "A lot of times... [people] look at New Brunswick in a very narrow view like, 'What happens in New Brunswick? What could possibly go wrong?'"

Michael Boudreau, who teaches criminology at St. Thomas University, said the new vehicle would be out of place in a city as small as Fredericton.

"They're primarily in larger urban centres — Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg — where they have more crime but also more street protests, more needs for crowd control, more need for high level security," Boudreau said.

Additional officers refused in budget

In addition to the new vehicle the force had also asked the city for more officers and office personnel, this request was not approved.

Fitch said some people are concerned the Force has chosen an armoured vehicle over people, which isn't the case

"Those are two separate budgets, it's capital budget and operating budget," she said. "The armoured vehicle is leased over a six year period at $57,000 a year...when that lease ends, that's a piece of our capital equipment  that will carry us through for many years."

With files from Information Morning Fredericton

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