Following 9/11, the need for security was increased around the world. Nowhere is this more evident than in the nuclear industry, where a terrorist attack could have long lasting and far reaching consequences. Unknown to many, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is one of the largest producers of electricity in North America, operating 65 hydroelectric, five thermal and three nuclear power generating stations within Canada. Located on the shores of Lake Ontario, less than 60 miles from the city of Toronto, are some of the world’s largest nuclear generating facilities. Protection of these vital Canadian (and North American) assets falls to an important group of men and women who rely upon GLOCK 22 pistols as part of their duty equipment.
Neil Weaver, Director of Strategic Initiatives – Nuclear Security, explained that after 9/11 the Canadian government ordered all nuclear sites to upgrade and enhance security features. One of the immediate requirements was the introduction of a 24/7 on-site armed response force capability. Prior to 2001, this particular type of response did not exist in Canada. Initially contracting with a local law enforcement service, OPG Nuclear Security was tasked with developing its own response team to replace the contract law enforcement officers. A team of experts was assembled to begin the process of identifying and transitioning to tactical equipment that would be provided to the Nuclear Security Response Team (NSRT) officers. As a new organization, the field was wide open and any rifle or pistol could have been selected. OPG chose to use the C8 rifle (the Canadian version of the M16 rifle) and the GLOCK 22 pistol.
The Ultimate Defense
Douglas Walker, manager of Nuclear Security Tactics and Training, was selected to lead the NSRT training. Formerly with the Toronto Police Service, Walker was very familiar with the GLOCK 22 having spent 34 years with the Toronto Police Service, 25 years of that being attached to the Special Weapons Team (SWAT). Of course, the Toronto Police Service also adopted the Glock 22, providing Walker with lots of prior operational experience with the pistol.
The decision to use the GLOCK was very straightforward. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission sets the criteria for firearm authorizations and after meeting with the GLOCK representatives the GLOCK 22 was identified as the best pistol for their needs. Doug Walker noted that, “When developing the 12-week tactical course, we chose the GLOCK 22. We engaged a number of firearms instructors formerly with the Toronto Police Service. Since the Toronto Police Service used GLOCK pistols, we knew the GLOCK was an extremely dependable and durable weapon. It would withstand an awful lot of wear and tear; it was very reliable. While I was working for the Toronto Police Service, we were extremely happy with the accuracy of the GLOCK 22 pistol.”
Training to protect a nuclear facility involves more than just firearms competency. The officers hired are put through a stringent screening process, undergoing psychological, medical and physical fitness testing. If the candidates pass the initial screening, a 12-week tactical training course follows, where the officers learn a number of unique skills, including safety and insight related to the operation of a nuclear power plant.
The weapons qualification portion of the training is particularly challenging, involving a number of different stages, shooting at varying distances, with both the strong hand and support hand in a number of firing positions. The trainees move along a course of fire, to engage both stationary and moving targets. While the exact course of fire could not be described, the author was assured that it was not limited to stationary firing positions, shooting at static targets. Instead, the weapons qualification course was set up and designed to be similar to what an officer might encounter if they came under terrorist attack while on patrol.
When asked how the female officers perform with the GLOCK 22 pistol, Doug noted that the female officers experienced no special issues with operation of the weapon. He explained that a female student who was quite small in stature was recently hired to the team, “she wasn’t very big, and she had no previous experience or background with firing a pistol prior to joining the team. All of her knowledge was gained through the instruction process. I believe that speaks volumes when you can take a new shooter, put them through a pistol training course and then be able to pass a fairly tough qualification course. It also speaks volumes about the quality of the pistol and the ease of use.”
Weapon of Choice
The GLOCK 22 pistol features many of the same features seen in other pistols in the GLOCK line. Every GLOCK pistol includes the “Safe Action” trigger, a cold hammer-forged barrel, a lightweight polymer frame and an accessory rail for mounting tactical illuminators and laser aimers. Not to be overlooked, the durable surface treatment finish is a valuable asset in demanding environmental conditions.
Each GLOCK 22 pistol is issued with 15-round magazines. The trigger system is the NY1 and standard issue ammunition is Winchester Ranger .40 180-grain Talon cartridge. Of course, OPG NSRT is armed with more than just GLOCK 22 pistols and C8 rifles. Additional resources available to the team include tactical precision rifles, armored vehicles and less lethal use of force options.
The actual numbers of the NSRT at OPG and their tactical deployment strategies are not details that we can publish; but, we can confirm that their team members range in age from 22 to 50 plus years, and include members with previous experiences that include unarmed Nuclear Security Officers and college graduates with no prior weapons and tactics training, to former Police Officers and Canadian Forces combat veterans.
The GLOCK 22 will function reliably into the 21st century and provide years of solid service. Considering the potential challenges faced by the officers of the OPG Nuclear Security Response Team, the GLOCK 22 pistol, combined with the high professional standards make for an unbeatable combination.