Police at Ottawa airport can now carry carbine rifles

Police at the Ottawa airport can now carry carbine rifles as part of their equipment, Ottawa police announced Thursday.

Reaction from travellers at the airport on Thursday night was mixed

Ottawa police at the airport will now be able to carry carbine rifles. (CBC)

Police at the Ottawa airport will now carry carbine rifles as part of their equipment, Ottawa police announced Thursday. 

The high-power tactical rifles have been part of the Ottawa police arsenal since 2006, but are only now being given to the airport unit.

Ottawa police Staff Sgt. Atallah Sadaka said the move will help police better respond to and deter security threats.

"It's certainly going to serve as a deterrent because we have it there and it's visible," he told CBC News.

A carbine is a ​semi-automatic, short-barrelled rifle that has a longer and more accurate range than a pistol or shotgun.

Sadaka said police are required to complete a week of training with the rifle before they can use it in the field. The carbine will not require additional money from police or the airport, he said.

Staff Sgt. Atallah Sadaka says police officers equipped with carbine rifles will be better prepared to deter and handle security threats. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Sadaka said the decision to equip police with the carbine is not related to a specific threat or incident either in Ottawa or at another airport.

Mark Laroche, president of Ottawa Airport Authority, said he supports the increased weapon presence in a news release.

Some travellers 'uneasy'

Reaction from travellers at the airport on Thursday night was mixed. Hamza Tariq said he was supportive of police having equipment to deal with threats like terrorism, but had questions when he saw a picture of the weapon.

"That's a big gun so I'm not sure why that size of a gun is needed," Tariq said.

"They must have their reasons as to why they're looking for such firearms to be present at the airport. I would question that gun, for sure."

Hamza Tariq and Chantel Dick are co-workers who fly to Ottawa from Toronto for work frequently. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Tariq's work colleague Chantel Dick, who also frequently travels from Toronto to Ottawa, said she didn't feel comfortable with the measure.

"I've seen similar when I travel within Europe, a lot of the airports or like the main tourist areas have guns of that size, but—within Canada—I feel like it makes me feel a little uneasy," she said. "You always think of Canada being such a safe country to live in so the fact they have to bring that in, just doesn't make you feel good."

Jade McQuade said the rifle reminded her of the video games her brother plays and that's a negative association.

"It's not something you see every day so it's not something you'd be comfortable seeing in a public place," the 16-year-old from Renfrew said.

Jade McQuade and her mother Linda Ricard react to a photo of a carbine rifle, which will now be carried by police at the Ottawa International Airport. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

McQuade said she would like to be reassured about police training with the rifle and that it can be kept away from dangerous people.

Ottawa resident Pad Moole, who was travelling to Edmonton on Thursday, said he was not concerned about the safety of police using the rifle.

"The world is changing, like, we hear news from all over the world every time, better to prepare rather than be sorry," Moole said.

Ottawa resident Pad Moole says he's not concerned about police carrying carbine rifles at the airport. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

"That maybe makes uncomfortable whoever wants to break the law, right? So people [who] are not breaking the law should be comfortable with whatever weapon [the police] are carrying."

Police said the measure is a result of consultation and planning with the Ottawa Airport Authority.

"It's for their safety at the end of the day," Sadaka said. "That's what it's for and any other safety measures that are employed here at the airport are all for the safety of the travellers and the community at large."