Semi-Automatic Rifles On The Way To Some Winnipeg Police Patrol Officers

Semi-automatic carbine rifles are already used by members of the Winnipeg Police Service's tactical unit, but soon some general patrol officers will be trained to use them. (Shutterstock)

Semi-automatic carbine rifles are already used by members of the Winnipeg Police Service’s tactical unit, but soon some general patrol officers will be trained to use them. (Shutterstock)

CBC News Posted: Apr 01, 2016

‘Fair share of officers per shift’ could carry the weapons, training possibly starting this summer

The Winnipeg Police Service will be purchasing semi-automatic carbine rifles for some of its general patrol officers, to be used only in dangerous situations.

The body that oversees the police force, the Winnipeg Police Board, approved a plan to purchase the rifles and related equipment at an estimated total cost of $200,000. Police officials would not specify how many rifles will be ordered.

Tactical unit officers already have this type of weapon, but the rifles will now be provided to general patrol officers who receive training to use them. That training could start this summer.

“We’d be using [them] for dangerous gun calls or for active shooters, so every day could be different, every week could be different,” deputy police chief Art Stannard told reporters on Friday.

“There might be weeks when we don’t use them at all and there might be a week we’re using [them] twice or three times, I’m not too sure. It depends on the incident, of course.”

Stannard said general patrols are often first on the scene, so it’s important to arm them. The rifles will allow officers to engage with active shooters from a safer distance, he said.

“If they have to eliminate that threat, they can do it from a long distance versus trying to sneak in there and go through buildings and try to meet that person head-on,” Stannard said.

“We have the luxury now of a distance, which protects the members and will also eliminate the threat quicker.”

‘We have to be prepared’

Stannard said he hopes officers won’t have to use the new rifles, but they are needed due to escalating gun violence in all parts of the world.

“If you see what’s happening in society right now, and you read the paper or see the news, every day there seems to be a shooting incident somewhere in the world, somewhere in the U.S. and in Canada,” he said.

“We have to be prepared to handle that, and part of the toolbox kit [is] these rifles.  They can do a job from a long distance if they have to.”

Supt. Bruce Ormiston said members who want to use the new rifles must undergo extensive training before taking them into the field. As well, they have to re-qualify to use the rifles on a yearly basis, he said, adding he couldn’t discuss specific numbers for security reasons.

“On a shift I’d say you’d see a fair share of officers having the ability to take that weapon with them,” he said.

“Again, it’s not all officers using them. It will be officer-based, not vehicle-based, so at the start of a shift that officer will take that weapon with them into the field.”

Winnipeg Police Association president Maurice Sabourin said he also hopes the new rifles will never have to be used, but he added that it’s important to protect officers and citizens.

“The unfortunate reality is with terrorism, with active aggressive shooters, the number of high-powered rifles that our members seize on a daily basis,” he said.

“I hate to say it, but I think eventually Winnipeg will see a tragedy similar to other parts of the country.”

The police board approved the purchase of the guns without putting the contract out to tender.

The contract for the Daniel Defense Patrol Rifles was awarded to a company called Wolverine Supplies.

Purchase questioned

But Frank Cormier, a criminology instructor at the University of Manitoba, questions the idea of buying semi-automatic rifles for general patrol officers when the tactical unit already uses them.

“The RCMP, for example, are responsible for policing much vaster areas where … they often don’t have even lightly armed back-up close by, let alone a more heavily armed tactical squad if needed. So there’s certainly a place for more patrol carbines for an outfit like the RCMP,” he said.

“Here in Winnipeg, because we do have a tactical response unit that has access to those firearms when needed, really lessens the argument that we need to have every officer equipped with them when back-up and help is that close within the city limits.”

Cormier added that while he is not against protecting police officers or the public, the question is whether buying more rifles is the right investment for the city.

“When we spend money and resources on any one given tool, that means that’s money that we can’t spend on something else, somewhere else we can’t put our focus,” he said.

“The other thing is certainly in parts of the world there are dangerous shooter situations, but we need to remember that we are talking about Winnipeg. And I’m not saying that it couldn’t ever happen here, but we have to look again when we are assessing the risk and the ones that we should focus our attention on, we have to think about what risks are actually likely to occur,” said Cormier.

Search for new police chief getting underway

Meanwhile, the police board is gearing up to find a successor to police Chief Devon Clunis, who is retiring after 29 years on the force.

Coun. Scott Gillingham, who chairs the board, said finding a replacement for Clunis is their top priority.

“We have a diverse board, diverse backgrounds, diverse experiences, and so it will be good to have all board members as part of the committee,” he said Friday.

“The board will meet as a recruitment committee starting next week to really begin to lay out the process.”

Gillingham said there is not a timeline in place yet, but he does not expect the search to be a long process. He would not say if the board already has its eye on someone to become chief.

Hate Crime Complaint Sent To Ottawa Police Service


(One of the notes left for Sharon Land Fisher at a YMCA in Ottawa)

By Julien Gignac, APTN National News, 

A complaint has been filed with the hate crimes unit of the Ottawa police over notes slipped to an Ojibway woman.

Since late August, Sharon Land Fisher, who lives in a YMCA women’s shelter in Ottawa, has received two notes.

“Indians are disgusting,” says one, the other accusing her of being a “Stupid, dirty, Inian.”

Tanya Schryer, coordinator of the TRY Housing Program for Women at the YMCA, filed the complaint.

“I contacted the OPS to have them come in and provide us with a seminar, which will be mandatory for all the TRY clients to attend, in hopes for people to understand the impact that racism has.”

Schryer admitted this was the most glaring testimony of racism she has heard about while at YMCA.

“It’s right in your face.”

Land Fisher has been living in subsidized housing for two years and says these are by far the most shocking and blatant signs of racism she has experienced since she first walked through the doors.

“I cried,” she said,” because it reminded me of growing up when it was quite legal to have signs that said ‘No Indians Allowed.’”

The first note was discovered when she was in the washroom. The other note, however, was slid beneath her door.

“The first note didn’t affect me as much as the second,” she said. “Having it put under my door brought it into my space.”

Sharon Land Fisher. Photo: Julien Gignac/APTN

Sharon Land Fisher. Photo: Julien Gignac/APTN

Land Fisher was part of the “Sixties Scoop”, the apprehension of Indigenous children during a period between 1960 and 1985.

Initially from Wabaseemong, near Kenora, Ontario, she was adopted by an Ottawa family where she was subjected to vehement forms of racism and intolerance at a young age.

“I grew up during that time when I faced a lot of racism because I was the only dark person in that area,” she said. “I got called everything, from squaw to wagon burner, tripped and shoved in lockers.

“I didn’t actually have any friends growing up because a lot of people who weren’t racist were afraid to stand up for what they believed in,” she said. “I was very alone. It was very hard.”

Land Fisher is skeptical of certain social interactions now.

“I’ve met a lot of nice people here, I’ve made a lot of good friends,” she said. “It was hard for me because now I take a second look at everybody, asking myself, ‘Are you the one who wrote that note?’”

Land Fisher does not show the tell-tale signs of someone who experienced a hate crime – she is giddy and shares her story openly. She took to Facebook, too.

Note slipped under the door of Sharon Land Fisher at a YMCA in Ottawa. Photo: Julien Gignac/APTN

Note slipped under the door of Sharon Land Fisher at a YMCA in Ottawa. Photo: Julien Gignac/APTN

“Part of it was to show this wasn’t going to hold me back,” she said. “When I was young I did. I kept a lot of pain inside, a lot of hurt, but this time no, it’s going to push me to continue spreading cultural awareness. It proves to me how much more this is needed.”

Land Fisher says many women who come to the shelter still call her “Indian,” explaining to them that she is, in fact, First Nations.

“People are not going to see my age, or my gender, they’re going to see the colour of my skin first when I walk through the door,” she said. “It’s still out there, and I’m not dirty, I’m not disgusting and I’m definitely not stupid.”

Land Fisher has been spreading cultural tolerance and sensitivity in the city since 2000. She worked as an Indigenous cultural speaker and teacher at public and private institutions for twelve years. For two years she has served as the chairperson of the Ottawa Aboriginal Parade Committee, a non-profit organization promoting Indigenous culture on National Aboriginal Day.

Facebook allegations spark protest outside Regina police headquarters


By Teri Fikowski | Global News

REGINA – Allegations against two city officers travelled from the online world to the front steps of the Regina Police Service headquarters Wednesday.

Supporters of a woman who alleged police abuse gathered to protest how police handled the accusations, but officers say their response was necessary after the claims were widely shared through social media.

Lisa Dustyhorn posted the accusations against police on Facebook and said the alleged incident has left her 25-year-old daughter Brooke Watson traumatized.

“They took her and they terrorized her,” she explained to reporters. “She told them my address, and asked why can’t you take me to my mom’s, and they said four words to her; ‘Shut the ‘F’ up’.”

Dustyhorn claimed two officers drove her intoxicated  daughter away from the city Sunday morning, removed her boots and coat, and threatened to leave her outside.

“We have to have bigger minds, bigger leadership, bigger vision, than just protecting a couple bullies within their police department,” said protester Connie Deiter.

The police service called for an independent investigation and the chief responded to the accusations Tuesday, citing GPS data showing the officer’s vehicle remained within city limits.

The allegations echo the so called, “starlight tours” that rocked Saskatoon police in 1990 when young First Nations men were dropped off out-of-town.

However, David Gerhard, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Regina said recent events in North America may also play a role.

“This particular issue is, I think, relevant today because of the interactions with police having stories all over the world,” he added.  “Like in New York and other places, so the timing is more relevant in this one.”

Deputy Chief Dean Rae said the social media post was public and widely spread, so in a rare move police responded publically in an effort to alleviate any fear within the community.

“If they had brought the complaint to the Public Complaints Commission or to another police service, we wouldn’t be having this discussion today, the process would be undertaken and we wouldn’t have divulged any of our information.”

Rae adds the two officers accused are not facing a suspension as the investigation continues.