NEW GLASGOW – The New Glasgow Regional Police Services’ acquisition of a Department of National Defence surplus Cougar has garnered province-wide attention.
It also has many locals commenting online on news stories and through social media that they think it’s unnecessary, wondering what the associated costs are and asking why police thought it would be useful in Pictou County.
Const. Ken MacDonald, community police officer with New Glasgow Regional Police Services said the police’s emergency response team (ERT), which is comprised of officers from New Glasgow, Stellarton and Westville, applied to receive the surplus cougar from DND because it would be an asset to the team if a situation occurred that required bulletproof cover for officers and civilians.
“If there is a situation that is dangerous to the officers or dangerous to citizens at large, we can use this emergency response team,” MacDonald said. “There was a program that we identified that was available to emergency response teams and this surplus equipment that the Canadian Forces would otherwise dispose of, our department applied for that and they applied for it because it’s another resource within the emergency response team that if needed, they had it. So, it was a very low-cost piece of equipment, it was free from DND, it’s in workable condition and it’s a very valuable resource, if we need it.”
Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay said no money was exchanged between DND and the ERT in the transfer of the vehicle.
“Materiel that no longer fulfils an operational role in the Canadian Armed Forces is declared surplus. This surplus materiel is then disposed of by DND. Should a provincial/municipal police department wish to pursue a request for surplus DND equipment, an official request would be made,” MacKay said. “The RCMP received a Cougar vehicle following such a request and similar requests have been received from the Cape Breton Regional Police and the Windsor, Ontario, Police Service.”
MacDonald said the vehicle is called Armoured Vehicle General Purpose (AVGP) and referring to it as a tank or Cougar is incorrect because it has been stripped of its military electronic equipment and weapons and basically acts as an armoured vehicle to safely transport the emergency response team and civilians from dangerous situations, such as cases that involve gunfire.
“There is a slew of situations (it would be used in), but overall, it would be used to evacuate or rescue citizens, transport officers to a dangerous situation that they may need to get into, transporting them from a dangerous situation that they may be in, for example different types of gun calls, different types of situations that endanger not only the public, but the officers as well,” MacDonald said. “This is added protection for officers that happen to go into a dangerous situation or from a dangerous situation and also added cover and safety for rescuing members of the general public.”
MacDonald said it’s difficult to say how often the local ERT might use the vehicle in the span of a year because that would depend on situations.
“We live in a very safe community. Our community is safe, but the reason why we have an emergency response team, the reason we have an Armoured Vehicle General Purpose is solely due to the fact that it is resources that we have at our disposal,” he said. “We have them there in case we need them.”
MacDonald said the maintenance and operational costs of the vehicle are low, because it has been stripped of its military electronic equipment and weapons.
“It had very expensive equipment in it to use for reconnaissance. That equipment has been stripped and now basically what we have is a personnel carrier, called an Armoured Vehicle General Purpose,” he said. “The cost now is basically civilian, locally purchased tires, it has an engine that can be fixed locally, a lot of the components now can be fixed locally.”
MacDonald said the AVGP is “not a new thing. Police Forces across North America have them at their disposal. When the time comes when we require it, it is going to be a very, very valuable benefit.”