Armoured vehicles adopted by B.C. RCMP

The RCMP in B.C. are rolling out their newest crime-fighting tools — two surplus tactical armoured vehicles (TAVs) that were given to them by the Canadian Armed Forces.

The Cougars, as the military called them, were gathering dust and out of service, so the Canadian Forces decided to turn them over to the RCMP for free. The six-wheel vehicles will be stationed in the Vancouver-area for the emergency response team to use in dangerous situations.

When the vehicles last saw military service, they were armed with heavy guns and grenade launchers, but all the weapons were removed from the 32-year-old vehicles before they were handed over to the RCMP.

"It contains absolutely no special weapons inside. There's no secrets here," said RCMP Sgt. Peter Thiessen.

The RCMP did borrow armoured personnel carriers from the military 15 years ago to help quell an armed standoff with native protesters at Gustafsen Lake, B.C.

Now, officers in B.C. say they need their own machines to protect against the growing firepower on the streets.

"Last year was a perfect example, within the Lower Mainland the gang violence, the amount of shootings, the type of firearms that were being utilized," said Thiessen, referring to the spate of gang shootings and homicides that plagued the region.

The TAVs were called out for the first time on Monday night to an incident involving a man with a gun, but the RCMP plans to routinely deploy the TAVs in order to increase public awareness and to give the officers experience operating them in an urban environment.

"These are older vehicles but they certainly have a lot of life left in them. And they're going to be put to good use when needed," said Thiessen.

The RCMP said the so-called "Cougars for cops" is a national program, and residents of other cities can expect to see the vehicles on their streets too.