The Edmonton Police Service will be getting a new armoured vehicle in the fall. This comes after public hearings at city hall when hundreds addressed city council and police that they would like to see funding go to other social initiatives and agencies.
In a news release, the EPS said the “Cambli Black Wolf” (ARV2) comes at a cost of $500,000, and will be a replacement vehicle for the 42-year-old “Grizzly Armoured Personnel Carrier.”
The decision was made by the police commission in 2017.
“This is a simple process of replacing a critical piece of infrastructure that is necessary to keep citizens and officers safe,” Chief Dale McFee said.
“These armoured rescue vehicles only come into play when officers are dealing with armed, violent and dangerous individuals, and unfortunately, in a city as large as ours, with increasing rates of violence and assaults involving weapons, it’s a reality we have to face.
“We need not look any further back than the recent attack on pedestrians on Jasper Avenue in 2017 or the many gun calls our members face weekly.”
EPS will be using the new armoured vehicle along with the Ballistic Armoured Tactical Transport vehicle (BATT).
Since it was donated in 2007, the Grizzly has been used 52 times, and the BATT has been used 250 times since it was purchased in 2013.
“They are not used a lot,” Edmonton Police Commission chair Micki Ruth said.
“They are the type of equipment that when you do use them or do need them, they’re really important, they’re important for citizen safety and for officer safety.
“When you have an active shooter situation, these vehicles offer the protection that you need.”
The purchase has been met with concern from the public. Citizens have been expressing their discontent on social media, especially since concerns about the militarization of the police were brought up earlier this year to council.
“It was brought up a number of times during the public hearing by people, the concern about the militarization of the police. I understand why it’s a concern,” Ruth said.
“It’s a careful balance and it’s a balance that the police commission is certainly keeping an eye on and we are looking at.
“But when we are looking at community safety and when we get a gun call — and the number of gun calls have gone up in Edmonton recently — they were down a bit last year, but now they are on their way back up, we can’t ignore that,” Ruth said.
Concerns were also raised that EPS didn’t let the public know about the purchase when the decision was initially made. EPS said it plans to do a media availability where it will do a show and tell of the vehicle when it arrives in the fall.
The Grizzly will be taken out of service and disposed of when the ARV2 is fully operational. As part of the original conditions of donation, the EPS is not able to sell the Grizzly.