News / Winnipeg

Winnipeg police buy armoured vehicle for $343,000, cities officer safety

Vehicle will be on the streets during crisis negotiations, tactical operations

The new vehicle from Terradyne will be on the streets of Winnipeg.

Terradyne Armoured Vehicles/Handout

The new vehicle from Terradyne will be on the streets of Winnipeg.

The Winnipeg Police Service defended its purchase of a tank-like car Wednesday, saying the purchase is about protecting officers and civilians.

Winnipeggers learned Wednesday the police service spent $343,000 to buy a new armoured vehicle – the first of its kind for the force.

“It’s really difficult to put monetary value on life, “ Superintendent Gord Perrier told reporters during a news conference at the Public Safety Building.

 “At the end of the day, this is about public safety. This is about protecting officers during very high-profile, stressful events.”

He explained the new vehicle—used by police forces across Canada—would be deployed primarily for rescue purposes and crisis negotiations.

Responding to an active shooter would be one such scenario, Perrier said.

“It’s about weapons. If weapons are present, this is where that vehicle will come into play.”

He emphasied no additional gear would be mounted onto the vehicle, which he specified would be used exclusively during tactical operations, not regular patrols.

One of the “tipping points” in the decision-making process to buy an armoured vehicle was the 2014 shootings of five RCMP officers in Moncton, N.B., following years of ongoing risk-analysis, Perrier said.

But questions were still raised around the purchase process itself; mainly, the fact the new buy was never tabled before the city’s board of police commission for approval.

Police board head Coun. Scott Gillingham said it was an operational decision the force had the right to make.

He said every budget year, the police chief has permission to reallocate up to $2 million in salaries and benefits, as well as $500,000 in other operating expenses.

But moving forward, Gillingham said from now on all police purchases exceeding $100,000, would require board consent.

Any public perception the new vehicle is militarizing the police force was also among chief concerns, even amongst those in the service, Perrier explained.

“It’s difficult. To create a balance between what is officer safety, and what could be viewed as military aspects of the police.”

That’s why, he said, police purchased the vehicle from civilian contractor Terradyne Armored Vehicles, rather than convert an existing military vehicle.  

 “That sends a message we’re really uncomfortable with,” he said.

Police said the vehicle is currently on order, and expected to arrive in the coming weeks.

More on Metronews.ca