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Border officials armed to work more effectively

SURREY, B.C. -- The federal government has outlined plans to arm border officials during the next decade to improve...

SURREY, B.C. — The federal government has outlined plans to arm border officials during the next decade to improve border security in B.C. and across this country.

The federal budget will provide $101 million over two years to begin the process of providing Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers with side-arms, and ensure that they are no longer required to work alone.

“A safe, secure and efficient border is important for Canada, and for all Canadians,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “It is vital to our country’s economy, and will protect the safety and security of all of our local communities.”

The funding in the initial two year period will also be used to hire an additional 400 permanent officers, who will be hired to address all work alone situations, and also be trained and equipped with side-arms.

Canada has approximately 4,400 CBSA officers at land and marine Ports of Entry, as well as officers who perform enforcement functions inland, that will be trained and equipped with side-arms. Officers working solely at international airports will not be armed.

It is expected that fully trained and armed officers will begin to be deployed as early as September 2007. By March 31, 2008, roughly 150 armed officers will have been deployed, with full implementation expected to take place over a period of 10 years.

The CBSA manages, controls and secures Canada’s border at approximately 1,200 points across Canada. An average of 260,000 travellers are processed into Canada every day.

Some of these travellers pose risks to the border officers at border crossings. In 2004, there were 621 weapons seizures, 8,711 drug seizures valued at $290 million, and currency seizures from suspected proceeds of crime valued at approximately $12,978,867. In addition, work-alone situations currently occur at 138 border sites, 95 of which are land port of entries.

The project is aimed at ensuring that Canada’s borders are protected from those who threaten the security of the country, while ensuring that legitimate commerce or travel is not delayed.

“Arming CBSA officers and eliminating situations where these officers work alone will allow them to do their job better and more effectively,” stated Harper.

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