Saskatchewan

Sask. seals deals to equip conservation officers with carbines

The province is another step closer to arming its conservation officers with carbines, after awarding contracts for ammunition and carbines. The goal is to have all officers trained by late September and all carbines deployed by the end of the year.

Ministry of Environment spends more than $645K on ammunition, rifles

A promotional image of the Sig Sauer MCX Virtus patrol rifle from the Sig Sauer website. Saskatchewan has secured 147 of the rifles for use by conservation officers. (Sig Sauer/www.sigsauer.com)

Saskatchewan's Ministry of Environment has agreed to spend $645,614 on carbines and ammunition for its conservation officers.

Carbines are rifles with shorter barrels, commonly used by the military and police tactical units because they're comparatively light and easy to handle.

The province secured 147 Sig Sauer patrol rifles with red dot sights for $440,614.

It also ​awarded two contracts for training ammunition — $100,000 to ​Lloyd Libke Law Enforcement Sales Inc and $105,000 to MD Charlton Co.— on Jan. 18, 2019. ​

Those ammunition contracts are for 12-gauge shotgun shells, 5.56 NATO rifle cartridges, .40-calibre pistols and .223 target rifle cartridges. The ammo will be used in everyday operations and training. 

The move to further arm conservation officers has not been without controversy. The province has been criticized by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations for not consulting First Nations leaders. 

The ministry has said the new equipment is a precaution.

"Without a rifle and enhanced body armour, conservation officers will not be equipped to respond to threats in their daily work environment, nor rapidly deploy and neutralize threats to themselves and the public during emergencies," said a spokesperson in an email.

A spokesperson said the officers "currently work in environments that bring them into contact with high-risk individuals, often armed with rifles capable of long-range shots."

They also said "officers often patrol alone in remote areas with limited backup, and assist the RCMP in northern and rural areas." ​

Officers currently wear soft-body armour, but they'll soon carry rifle resistant body-armour in their vehicles. ​The contract was awarded to 911 supply for $75,439.

Guns arrive in March; Training starts in April

The carbines should be delivered by March 1, but the province says officers will have to meet Saskatchewan Police College standards before carrying them. ​Conservation officers are scheduled to begin training with the new weapons in April.

The plan is to have all 141 officers trained by late September and all .223 carbines deployed before the end of 2019, according to the province. ​The 40-hour training course lasts five days that consist of a small classroom component and time on the range. 

Conservation officers will study safety, handling skills, familiarization of firearm and proficiency.

The province says the conservation officers will be re-certified annually.

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