At a time when violence perpetrated by cops is facing intense scrutiny, Toronto Police Service is arming its front-line officers with military-grade assault rifles.
The cops have purchased 50 C8 carbine assault rifles—the same guns used by the Canadian Armed Forces—for officers working in the Greater Toronto Area’s 17 divisions, according to a CBC report that was confirmed by police spokesman Mark Pugash.
“We’re always looking at technology to see if it offers us additional safety, additional accuracy, something that can help us protect the public,” Pugash told the CBC.
The semi-automatic rifles, which can fire bullets at a speed of 895 metres per second, are known for being user-friendly and accurate; they’re currently used by the TPS’ Emergency Task Force, a tactical unit that responds to extreme scenarios such as those that involve hostages and bombs.
But questions are being raised as to why the police need more of them.
Ottawa-based criminal defence lawyer Michael Spratt told VICE the cops’ push to “militarize” is “fucking ridiculous.”
“These aren’t weapons that should be use on civilians,” he said. “By arming them, bulletproofing them, and making them seem like a military invasion strike force, that [creates] a public perception problem.”