N.S. sheriff’s deputies will not carry firearms: Justice Department
Sheriff’s deputies in Nova Scotia will not be armed with firearms any time soon, according to the Department of Justice.
Last July, an internal report released 51 recommendations about courthouse safety, which recommended sheriff’s deputies be armed with firearms.
News of the province’s decision to arm deputies with Tasers instead of firearms isn't sitting well with the union representing sheriffs.
“No reason has been given for this decision. We understand it was budgetary,” said Jason MacLean of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union.
But Justice Minister Diana Whalen says it's not a budgetary decision at all.
“We're looking at a whole series of recommendations that are in that report and we believe that the prudent thing to do is to mitigate the risk with other measures,” she said.
Minister Whalen says the department is trying to be proactive, adding more staff when necessary, depending on who is in court.
They're also calling in armed police officers more often, and a small group of sheriffs will soon be trained with Tasers.
“Well as I say, I consider Tasers an arm as well,” said Minister Whalen.
The Justice Department says work has already begun to identify the two dozen sheriff’s deputies who will be eligible for Taser training. That training is expected to begin as early as next month.
But when the report was written, then-Justice Minister Lena Diab said some sheriffs would be armed with sidearms.
“This is the latest promise that they've stepped back from,” said Nova Scotia PC Leader Jamie Baillie. “This one happens to be about public safety – keeping people safe when they're in public buildings, keeping our sheriffs and deputy sheriffs safe. This is one there should be no compromise on.”
The NSGEU says sheriffs should be armed while serving warrants in the community, as well as in the courthouses.
“When you go to a courthouse now, you see metal detectors. And with the metal detectors, they're out there for a reason,” said MacLean
Minister Whalen says the Tasers will only be used in certain circumstances. The new safety measures will be in place in courthouses across the province this summer.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Sarah Ritchie.