Provincial regulation that Halton officers carry military-style rifles will have ‘great’ impact on budget

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Published October 10, 2023 at 1:44 pm

Halton Regional Police Chief Stephen Tanner is expressing concerns over the cost of a proposed regulation by the province that would require all front-line officers in Ontario carry C8 military-style rifles.

The semi-automatic rifles are included in the new Community Safety and Policing Act that is set become operative beginning April 1, 2024.

All front-line police officers would have a C8 rifle and receive the proper training for its use.

“There will be a cost to the rifles, but the training for those rifles will probably be $800,000 only for ammunition, plus the five days or so for every officer to be put through training, taken off the road, and put into a training program,” said Tanner at Halton Police Board meeting held on Sept. 28.
“I and we (police) have some significant concerns about that cost and the impact on budgets, and certainly behind the scenes there will be some work to see if the province might support some of those costs.”

Tanner pointed out that enhancements to the ballistic protection of their officers may also be required.

“We fully support our officers being as safe as they possibly can be,” he said. “It would probably be in the neighbourhood of $100,000 to $200,000 and possibly more if different vest carriers are required.

“I just want to flight that very early. These regulations will not come without great financial impact potentially.”

The cost of annual training sessions could range from $100,000 to $200,000.

“Every front-line officer has to have one,” said Tanner. “I don’t know what we’ll do with new recruit situations when they’re in the car with somebody. It’s got some complications.

“Every five days of training would probably be $4,000 to $5,000 of salary.”

Another issue discussed was the ability of the province’s 45 polices services to procure the supply of C8 rifles needed.

“There appeared to be a lack of awareness of the financial impact that this will cause, as well as some of the procurement issues if all of a sudden 45 police services are scrambling to get the same equipment,” said Halton Regional Police Deputy Chief Roger Wilkie.

Concern was also expressed if they necessary firing ranges were available or could handle the specific training required for the C8 rifle.

“Our range can withstand the C8 weapons,” said Tanner. “I’m not sure it’s going to be the distance that the regulations might require. There’s something to be said there and there’ll be the small to mid-size services that have no range capacity.

“They may have to call on other services to help, which will have wear and tear and expenses for services if they do host that sort of thing.”

The province believes arming the officers with the C8 rifles would help them respond better in active attacker incidents. The regulation comes from recommendations made in a report after a 2020 shooting rampage in Nova Scotia by a man posing as a police officer left 22 people dead.

The new regulation, if passed as expected, would see every officer in the province who carries out patrol functions and could be required to respond to an active attacker incident have ready access to a semi-automatic rifle and a minimum of two full magazines.

Police services will have to comply with these requirements in the next two years, according to the proposed regulation.

Another requirement of the regulation is that hard body armour be in each patrol car.

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