The Saint John Police Force unveiled their newest piece of equipment on Thursday: an armoured vehicle known as Rescue One.
“In the worst of times, if something terribly goes wrong, our new rescue vehicle — which will be known as Rescue One — may be the difference in someone going home safely to their loved ones,” said police chief Bruce Connell.
The armoured vehicle would be put to use in situations where officers or members of the public could be in danger, such as a high-risk takedown or even severe weather.
The need for such a vehicle was prompted in part by the shooting deaths of two Fredericton police officers and two civilians outside an apartment building in August 2018.
“What those tragedies did was brought it home to New Brunswick,” Connell said.
“You know, here in our community we would see such things on CNN or maybe some things in Ontario and stuff, that brought that all home.”
After the events in Fredericton, Connell was approached by the Irving family. He says they wanted to ensure police would be safe should something similar unfold closer to home.
John Irving, president of Commercial Properties, purchased the vehicle at a cost of more than $350,000.
“We wanted to be a little bit proactive,” Irving told Global News on Thursday. “So we said to the chief, ‘what can we do to prevent something that’s occurred like this?”
Irving said Connell told him the force was without a vehicle that would allow officers to get to the scene of a similar event without putting them at risk.
They wanted one, but it wasn’t financially possible.
“The City of Saint John, unfortunately, would never have been able to do this on our own,” deputy mayor Shirley McAlary said at the vehicle’s unveiling this morning.
The introduction of vehicles like Rescue One in other police forces has been met with controversy. Plans to bring one to Halifax, for example, resulted in concerns about the militarization of police.
“People can have their opinion, and that’s fine,” says Chief Connell.
“I think that most citizens in this city would appreciate having this vehicle because it might be them. And even those folks that make those comments? We will be there for them.
“We will be there for them if they need our help.”
Halifax will unveil their rescue vehicle in the spring. Here in Saint John, Rescue One is ready to roll.