C8 patrol carbines wanted in every Windsor police car
'These are quite clearly military weapons,' C8 carbines similar to rifles used by Canadian military
Arming Windsor police officers with high-powered assault rifles is a dangerous move that needs to be reconsidered, says a criminologist at Simon Fraser University.
Rob Gordon, a criminology professor at Simon Fraser, questions why Windsor Police Service is asking for $200,000 to complete its roll out of C8 carbines in all patrol vehicles by next year. He says the guns, a type of a rifle similar to an M-16, are excessive.
"I find this development very alarming," he said. "These are quite clearly military weapons and unless there is some very clear reason why police services should have them as a general policy, they should be withdrawn."
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Police already have one C8 carbine installed in most vehicles. If the budget passes and the new purchases are complete, each vehicle will have two.
The guns will be a valuable tool for officers when they encounter particularly dangerous situations, according to Const. Andrew Drouillard, spokesman for Windsor police. Citing security concerns, he wouldn't say how many cruisers Windsor police has in its fleet.
Windsor police appear to be ratcheting up their firepower- Rob Gordon, criminologist, Simon Fraser University
Part of that money requested from the city will also pay for mounts and scopes for the new guns, explained Drouillard, who would not say how many rifles will be purchased next year.
A carbine is a short-barrelled rifle that has a longer accurate range than a sidearm or shotgun.
Police describe the latest addition to their arsenal as a more accurate weapon that fires more bullets with less penetrating power than a shotgun, which means they can reduce the chance of injuring unintended targets.
"This will improve officer safety and our ability to handle high-risk situations," Drouillard said. "Being equipped with these rifles will improve their safety and the safety of the public."
Gordon questions the type of situation police would encounter where they would need to use the rifles, considering Windsor already has a tactical team that is regularly called upon.
Carbines first introduced in 2013
"I would very much like to understand the rationale for that sort of equipment," he said. "This is, in essence, a combat weapon and I guess the big concern, and it's not the first time it's been raised, is that civilian police services in Canada are becoming increasingly militarized both in terms of their fire power and, perhaps more alarmingly, some of the vehicles they seem to have acquired."
Windsor police introduced the C8 cabines back in 2013 with a plan to phase out the 12-gauge shotgun currently used in patrol cars. That year, the service bought 15 of the guns at a cost of about $2,000 each.
This year's budget also includes a line item for the Windsor police to spend $125,000 on Tasers.
"Windsor police appear to be ratcheting up their fire power," Gordon said. "The question is: Why? Why do they think that this necessary? Have there been cases in Windsor where the availability of these weapons would have resulted in greater safety for police officers or for members of the community? I'm hard pressed to think of one example."
At the national level, a review exploring the RCMP response to Justin Bourque's deadly shooting spree in June in New Brunswick called for the force to take immediate action to better arm Mounties — one of 64 recommendations that have all been accepted by the RCMP.
The report urges the RCMP to expedite the deployment of patrol carbines across the force, including improved training.