Opinion Editorial

Moncton tragedy showed cops outgunned

Leo Knight Prime Time Crime columnist 24 hours (PHOTO SUBMITTED).

By Leo Knight, Law and Order, 24 hours Vancouver

RCMP officers in Moncton, New Brunswick gather their weapons during a search for a man suspected of shooting other officers last month. (QMI AGENCY)

RCMP officers in Moncton, New Brunswick gather their weapons during a search for a man suspected of shooting other officers last month. (QMI AGENCY)

Largely because the wounds were still bleeding — literally and metaphorically — I have refrained from commenting on the shootings in Moncton, New Brunswick last month which left three RCMP members dead and two more recovering after a confrontation with a cop hunter. And make no mistake — that is exactly what the killer was on that fateful night.

True to their nature and commitment, the RCMP members who responded that night ran toward the danger, not from it. It’s an important point because they did it knowing they were outgunned.

In the wake of the Mayerthorpe ambush in March, 2005 — in which four RCMP members lost their lives to an extreme cop-hater — the RCMP went through a period of introspection. This resulted in the unmistakable conclusion that their members needed access to heavier weaponry than the standard-issue 9mm sidearms, and the few shotguns sporadically distributed to on-duty members.

Both are close-combat weapons and the Mayerthorpe ambush was anything but.

In two separate inquiries, one internal and one external, the RCMP brass were told their members didn’t have the proper weapons for the threats they were continually facing from gangs, organized crime and wing nuts with an agenda.

In response, Mountie brass approved the deployment of the Colt C8 tactical rifle, similar in design to the M4 used by the U.S. military. It accurately fires .223-calibre ammunition and has 30-round magazines — a formidable weapon by any measure.

The same weapon is deployed by the Vancouver Police Department.

But a decision to do something is a long way from implementation. I’ve long referred to the RCMP bureaucracy as 144 years of tradition unhampered by progress.

And so it was with the C8s. This is a more expensive version of the C8, with all the whistles and bells, at a cost of about $5,000 each. And they added in counter-terror military training before any member could use the weapon, slowing its deployment.

Other, non-RCMP departments use a much cheaper version of this weapon.

In contract policing, the cost is borne out of local budgets, not federal, so many detachments have been unable to properly arm their members to comply with the new policy.

The carpet cops can say they have the best weapons, but as Moncton showed, that policy may not have made its way to the streets where the actual threats are faced.

Leo Knight is a former police officer, security expert and host of primetimecrime.com.



Should the police be equipped with heavier weapons?

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