It’s not hard to buy an old police vehicle.
Across the country, it’s common practice to sell decommissioned, stripped-down police vehicles at auctions, available to anyone with a credit card.
“You’re likely to see more at a government auction; there’s a couple auction houses here that sell that,” said David Giles, vice-president of All EV Canada, a company that specializes in electric vehicles.
Through his work, Giles regularly monitors auctions across the country for parts, and says he has seen much more than just old vehicles up for sale.
“I’ve seen anything from decals, light bars push bars, racks, cages for inside the vehicles,” said Giles.
In early March, an auction in Dartmouth was selling a skid that included roof lights and strobe controllers.
But in the wake of this month’s shootings, where 22 people were killed in Nova Scotia by Gabriel Wortman as he used a replica RCMP vehicle, there are now questions over why these items are allowed to go up for public sale.
The replica vehicle was nearly indistinguishable from real RCMP vehicles, something that RCMP Superintendent Darren Campbell said helped the gunman gain an advantage over police and the public.
Wortman was also wearing an RCMP uniform.
Police have not released information on how the gunman obtained the uniform, but Campbell has said that surplus police uniforms are available through a variety of means, including online auctions.
In addition to the replica RCMP vehicle used during the shooting rampage, Wortman owned three other decommissioned police vehicles, all purchased at auctions.
It’s raising the question of why police equipment can be purchased by the general public when impersonating a police officer is illegal.
“Just for general public to easily access this stuff is kind of concerning, considering it should be restricted,” sad Giles.
Global News reached out to the Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney to ask if the government is now considering placing any restrictions or limitations on ownership of police equipment.
In a statement, the office would only say that Canada’s Criminal Code is clear, and that “it is a crime for anyone to impersonate a peace or public officer.”
When asked about the sale of old police equipment, Premier Stephen McNeil said it’s all part of the RCMP’s ongoing investigation.
“I’m sure there will be recommendations coming out of this not only here in Nova Scotia, but also, nationally, I’m sure they’ll be looking at how do we address the issue of surplus issue equipment from law enforcement agencies across the country,” he said.
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