Nova Scotia

Halifax police firepower increased with C8 rifle purchases

Halifax Regional Police has purchased more military issue semi-automatic weapons, and the force says it’s an indication their job is getting more dangerous.

Police say semi-automatic weapons purchase indicates job is more getting more dangerous

Deputy Police Chief Bill Moore says the force bought more semi-automatic weapons and more armoured tactical gear back in January. (CBC)

Halifax Regional Police has purchased more military issue semi-automatic weapons, and the force says it’s an indication their job is getting more dangerous. 

Const. Mark Taylor spent 21 years in the armed forces carrying a semi-automatic weapon and is, once again.
He says there are some differences. 

"It's not a machine gun. This is designed for one round per one squeeze of the trigger," he says.

Police have carried the guns in public at least twice recently. Last week police had their C8s drawn — and in clear view — as they arrested a man in downtown Halifax during a tense weapons call.

Halifax police, carrying C8 semi-automatic rifles, boarded a boat Wednesday afternoon on the Northwest Arm to try and catch a suspect fleeing by canoe. (Courtesy Rob Gordon)

On Wednesday of this week, the guns were drawn again as they chased a man who was trying to escape them by paddling a canoe across the Northwest Arm. Police say the suspect in that case had a sword. 

Deputy Police Chief Bill Moore says it’s not an over reaction.

"They're utilizing the weapons that are provided to them," he says. "We've augmented the number of weapons we have so there are a few more in the field. So it's not about over reacting but making sure that we respond with the appropriate weapons." 

Moore says the force bought more semi-automatic weapons and more armoured tactical gear back in January. 

HRP is also gradually changing its response to weapons calls, with the goal of making sure there are more of these weapons where they're needed. 

"When you're going to a gun call against a long gun, a handgun is not the preferred weapon," Moore said. 

Police officials admit the business of policing, or at least engaging a criminal with a weapon, has changed since the events in Moncton this past June.

Moore says the emphasis now is to engage that person from a distance.

"There's a little heightened response and making sure that we understand what we need to," he said.

The deputy chief says the force conducts a review every time an officer has to deploy, or carry, a C8 rifle.

He says they are aware there may be little appetite among some residents to see their police force become even more armed.

"I realize that there's a bit of a thought out there on the militarization of policing," he says.

"l know that's a piece that's out there. But the unfortunate part of it is we can't put our heads in the sand and say, 'These things don't happen,' because we know that they do happen."

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