April 3, 1998
The Newfoundland legislature authorized officers of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary to carry sidearm’s on April 3, 1998 ending this provinces status as the only unarmed police force in Canada. Previously, members of the force kept their weapons in a locked compartment in their police vehicle.
The Justice Minister of the day Chris Decker made the announcement in the Legislature.
On 2 December 1997, a Select Committee of the House of Assembly was appointed to enquire into the arming policy of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, and report its findings to the House of Assembly by 31 March 1998. The Select Committee conducted research, viewed presentations by interested parties and held public hearings.
The Committee tabled its report to the House of Assembly on 31 March 1999 which recommended that the arming policy of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary be amended to permit its members on operational duty to wear sidearms as part of their regular uniform.
The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary has the deepest roots of any police force in Canada and possibly North America. These roots date back to 1729 when Newfoundland’s first Governor, Captain Henry Osborn of the Royal Navy, created six separate judicial districts each with justices and constables.
Recommended Reading: Browne, G. (2008) To Serve and Protect: The Newfoundland Constabulary on the Home Front World War Two.St. Johns: DRC Publishing.
Recommended Website: RNC Historical Society: http://www.rnchs.ca/history.html