Letters to the editor, April 14, 2016

These are the letters and comments from the print edition

Weapons check

They need those big guns ("Weapons of mass intimidation," cover story by Rob Gordon, April 7). The cops should get anything they want. We the taxpayers must pay for power trips and our newly forming police state. We must prop up the egos of the fools in armour. —posted by willie_johnson25 at thecoast.ca

I think there's a time and place for these weapons and the tactics one might employ to accompany them. I also think the Halifax Regional Police and other police forces tend to overreact and bring bombs to snowball fights. It's about balance, which is what they all need to learn. —posted by Charlie Brown

To the simplistic question, "Do heavily armed police in a public setting make you feel safer?" I would pose the counter question: "Do mobs of anonymous people in Burger King masks parading down the sidewalk make you feel freer?" In both cases the answer is "Yes, with a but" and "No, with an if." —posted by Winston Smith

We strongly agree that police shouldn't become militarized. That would go against the way in which we strive to connect with and serve our community. However, we must be prepared to protect our community. We believe our citizens expect us to be prepared to handle high-risk situations, and we also have an obligation to our officers under the Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety Act to ensure they're adequately equipped and trained to do their jobs.

It may be shocking for people to grasp that the incidents we're seeing around the world (San Bernardino, California; Paris; Brussels) and closer to home (Mayerthorpe, AB; Ottawa; Moncton) could happen here in Halifax. We've been very fortunate to date that we have averted several significant incidents where people have had the ability and intent to do serious harm to many citizens in our community—the planned mass shooting at Halifax Shopping Centre in 2015 is one example. It's a sad, stark, cold reality. Unfortunately, we don't control the people intent on doing harm to others and we must be prepared. Our approach is based on need, not want. —posted by Halifax Regional Police

Police are damned if the do and damned if they don't. I don't believe this city or country will ever fall into a police state. People who believe that or dictate to others that's where we are going need to look outside the box and see the light. It sounds like the HRP may only have 20 C8s for about 600 members. That's not overkill. They are just preparing in case they need them. Can't please everyone. —posted by J MacDonald

As a police officer I must strenuously disagree with the above statement "The cops should get anything they want." We are government employees of towns, villages, provinces and the country, and as such we should be held accountable—not only for our actions, but our expenditures and, once in awhile, for our inactions.

Arguably, carrying the patrol carbine through a Remembrance Day service was a wrong call (I wasn't there). I expect an unmarked van or two with C8-armed officers could have been conveniently parked nearby if the presence of the weapons was believed necessary. However, saying that we don't need them is an uninformed approach.

These weapons are not exactly purchased because they have a high muzzle velocity, although that velocity does contribute to the weapon's accuracy. These weapons are purchased because they are accurate, reliable and make far more sense to have available than the traditional 12-gauge shotgun with its very limited range and questionable accuracy.

In the rare instance of an active shooter, I expect that nobody wants a police officer sitting behind cover and unable to stop the shooter because their pistol is not accurate enough at that range. I for one want officers equipped for the task should someone walk into one of my daughters' schools and begin to execute students and teachers. This may never happen where I live, but I hope there is at least one carbine available if it does.

I would like to thank all those who have taken the time to post their opinions in response to this article. Whether the police agree with every opinion is irrelevant. You are the people for whom we work and who we are tasked to protect. We should be paying attention to your concerns and address them in a respectful and helpful way, even if we are unable to satisfy everyone. —posted by 4284brad

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