Do New Glasgow cops really need Cougars?
Police in New Glasgow, N.S. now have an armoured Cougar to help protect their officers and the public in dangerous situations, but some residents wonder if the small town really needs such military might.
The Cougar, which was used in the Balkans and Somalia, was declared surplus by the Canadian Armed Forces.
Similar vehicles have been donated to police forces across the country as part of a program called Cougars for Cops.
An official in the office of Defence Minister Peter MacKay says requests for equipment are dealt with on a case-by-case basis and New Glasgow Police asked about the program three years ago.
The New Glasgow Police are the only force in Atlantic Canada with a Cougar.
“We said, ‘if the RCMP can get surplus equipment, why can’t we?” says New Glasgow Police Sgt. Blair Bannerman.
“It’s not a tank, it’s an armoured personnel carrier. It will carry our officers into a deployment scene. There’s absolutely no offensive weapons mounted on this vehicle. The cannon has been removed.”
But area residents wonder if the Cougar is really needed in the small, typically-quiet town.
“Is this Chicago or some place? Do they need something like that? It just doesn’t make sense,” says resident Leo Crawly.
“Well, I think they took it because it was free and it may make them feel important. I don’t know,” says Joan Bowser.
“I think it’s great,” says resident Gus MacInnis. “I think all police forces should have them the way that the police are out there today.”
Police say they hope they never have to use the Cougar, but are glad to have it if a dangerous situation arises.
“I liken it to insurance,” says Bannerman. “It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.”
Over the next few months, officers will be trained on the operation of the vehicle, but if needed, it could go into service today.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Dan MacIntosh