RCMP changes following the Mass Casualty in Nova Scotia
On this page
- Responding to critical incidents
- Public communication
- Operational communications
- Cooperation among police services
- Gender-based and intimate partner violence
- Victim services
- Access to firearms
- Crime scene management
- National Office of Investigative Standards Review
- Police vehicle and uniform disposal
- Civilian review and oversight
- Employee wellness
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On April 18 and 19, 2020, a gunman took the lives of twenty-two people and injured three others in Nova Scotia.
What took place was unimaginable and we have made efforts since to understand what happened, learn from it, and make improvements. We are committed to making us and our service to Nova Scotians and Canadians better.
In support of this commitment, the RCMP has created a new sector dedicated to reform, culture change and accountability.
This sector will lead the response to the Mass Casualty Commission final report and recommendations, and those from other external reviews — taking a holistic, organization-wide approach.
The RCMP is actively conducting in-depth analysis of the report to determine priorities and to inform next steps including communicating with employees and all Canadians on progress.
We welcome any changes that will help to improve operations, support employees, survivors and families, and make communities safer in the future.
The information below reflects some of our improvements to date.
Responding to critical incidents
The RCMP has specialized teams across the country that are trained and equipped to respond to critical incidents.
Since April 2020, we have doubled the number of full-time resources on Nova Scotia's emergency response team. We have also put protocols in place to ensure two or more police officers are available 24/7 to provide emergency medical support to the emergency response team.
The RCMP has made improvements to the way we communicate with the public during a critical incident. Our goal is to ensure everyone receives information that can help them keep themselves safe.
Police across Canada are now using the Alert Ready system to issue emergency alerts. As a result, the RCMP has implemented robust national and divisional policies on public alerting. The Alert Ready system is also being integrated into the Cadet Training Program as another tool for cadets to use during scenario-based training.
We have also updated the RCMP's national crisis communications protocols, which help guide our communications with the public during critical incidents.
Effective communication during critical incidents is key to ensuring the safety of the public and police.
The RCMP in Nova Scotia has made improvements in this area, which include:
- Opening a new, centralized Operational Communications Centre
- Equipping all partner police agencies with capable radio communication encryption and ensuring preparedness through regular testing
- Reviewing and updating active shooter/active threat protocols as needed
- Providing mandatory training to RCMP officers in Nova Scotia on the Trunked Mobile Radio system, which provides communications throughout the Maritimes
- Providing the Operational Communications Centre with access to officers through their mobile work station while on shift
- Updating the Operational Communications Centre's Standard Operating Procedures on when more employees should be called in for support
Cooperation among police services
- The RCMP has been making efforts to improve communications and relationships with its policing partners in Nova Scotia. We continue to welcome close collaboration with our policing partners in Nova Scotia and across the country.
- We are looking to increase opportunities to work together with our partners, and have created a contact list to help share information.
Having the right tools, technology, and equipment to respond during a critical incident is essential.
We have made several improvements in this area, which include:
- Rolling out Blue Force Tracking across Nova Scotia to track the locations of police officers, in real time, to enhance situational awareness – the rest of the provinces and territories will follow by the end of 2023
- Providing new thermal imaging equipment to RCMP officers in Nova Scotia as another tool to use in low-light conditions
- Equipping specialized vehicles in Nova Scotia with mobile workstations
- Rolling out Body-Worn Cameras as a national standard for all general duty front-line RCMP officers across the country, which will be field tested shortly in Nova Scotia, Alberta, and Nunavut
- Initiating a process for a new general duty pistol for RCMP officers across Canada
It is essential that police officers have the skills and training they need to respond to critical incidents. We have updated our training and have implemented several changes to address topics including:
- Public alerting
- The Incident Management Intervention Model
- Immediate Action Rapid Deployment
- Using night vision devices during rural operations
- Breaching (forced entry) techniques
- First aid
- Roll out of body-worn cameras
In Nova Scotia, the RCMP has exceeded benchmarks in all areas of operational training. For instance:
- 93% of operational police officers are Immediate Action Rapid Deployment trained
- 91% of operational police officers are Initial Critical Incident Response 100 trained
- 76% of operational frontline supervisors are trained in Initial Critical Incident Response 200
- 82% of frontline police officers are carbine trained and current
A new mandatory training model will begin in April 2023 and include the following:
- Vehicle and exterior tactics
- Refresher of the Immediate Action Rapid Deployment – designed to maintain officer safety skills related to responding to an active threat
- Scenario-based training – 100+ standardized operationally-relevant scenarios which incorporate real-time decision-making, the Incident Management Intervention Model, and de-escalation techniques, informed by actual public and police encounters
Gender-based and intimate partner violence
The RCMP is improving its capacity across the country to better respond to gender-based and intimate partner violence. Some of our recent efforts include:
- Launching a new course on Collaborative Police Action on Intimate Partner Violence
- Supporting potential victims of intimate partner violence through Clare's Law in provinces that have passed legislation
- Supporting efforts to combat intimate partner violence, gender-based violence, and self-harm involving firearms
- Supporting and collaborating with community organizations on initiatives related to relationship and family violence
We strive to provide victims, survivors, and families with the support they need following a critical incident. The RCMP is making improvements to ensure its services are timely, sensitive and trauma-informed.
We have several courses on the values and approaches that should guide investigations, which include:
- Cultural Awareness and Humility
- Using a Trauma-Informed Approach
- Sexual Offence Investigations
The principles covered in these courses are also integrated throughout the Cadet Training Program.
The RCMP has created an employee and family resource guide with information and resources available to employees, veterans and their families.
We have also developed and updated policies on victim assistance, child abuse, elder abuse and abuse in relationships. A national working group has been established to develop policy and training on the role of victim services during an investigation.
Access to firearms
The RCMP continues to support and strengthen efforts to combat the smuggling, trafficking, and misuse of firearms.
The Canadian Firearms Program is focusing on:
- Improving law enforcement partner knowledge of firearms investigative procedures
- Enhancing law enforcement partner access to investigation supports
- Integrating data and intelligence in operations
- Raising awareness on the value of firearms tracing
Crime scene management
Managing a crime scene involves protecting both the evidence of the crime as well as the victims and survivors. We strive to complete this work in a way that is respectful, supportive and timely.
Operational policy is currently under review as it relates to contacting the property owner of a crime scene, when feasible and appropriate to coordinate cleaning.
We have included a section on the roles and responsibilities of crime scene managers in the RCMP's newly created National Major Case Management Guide.
National Office of Investigative Standards Review
The RCMP's National Office of Investigative Standards provides support, training and oversight across the organization. They are currently working on:
- Assessing the mass casualty criminal investigative file
- Improving the staffing process for major case team commanders to make it more robust
- Increasing divisional file reviews to promote successful investigations and use of major case management principles
- Distributing the newly created National Major Case Management Guide
- Developing and deploying training to support investigative units across the RCMP
Police vehicle and uniform disposal
We completed an internal review of police vehicle disposal, which led to several enhancements across the country.
An external review of sales was also completed to examine industry practices on disposal of police vehicles and equipment.
In Nova Scotia, the RCMP has:
- Reviewed kit and clothing disposal policies and procedures, and ensured compliance with the Nova Scotia Police Identity Management Act
- Implemented a new directive to reinforce the tracking of uniform and equipment
Civilian review and oversight
Civilian review is essential for public trust and confidence following a critical incident.
The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP is an independent body that:
- Reviews complaints about police officer conduct
- Provides recommendations for policies and practices
The RCMP has increased its ability to respond to public complaints, as a key component of becoming a more modern, agile organization. Parliament is currently considering legislation that may further strengthen the role of the independent review body for the RCMP.
The RCMP Management Advisory Board continues to provide external advice and guidance to the RCMP on key issues impacting the organization.
The RCMP is taking positive steps to improve mental health and wellness in the workplace. We are updating our programs, services and tools to better support employees following a critical incident.
The RCMP has made several improvements in Nova Scotia, which include:
- Developing a new comprehensive wellness strategy
- Increasing wellness support sessions
- Improving mental health screening
- Increasing support staff in our employee health and wellness programs and employee services
Nationally, we have a National Reintegration Program to help build confidence and support an officer's return to work following a traumatic or critical incident.
The RCMP has created a dedicated Family Program that offers guidance, supports and outreach services to families of RCMP employees with a focus on those supports required following a critical incident.
Our Support for Operational Stress Injury program connects both current and former RCMP officers with a peer support network of people who have experienced an operational stress injury.
The Health Benefits Program, through the Health Benefits Advisory Committee continues to review new out-patient and in-patient treatment programs for potential registration as providers for the RCMP; this grows our network of facilities that can support our members with operational stress injuries.
Launched in 2022, the Well-being Ambassador Program has 11 full-time ambassadors across divisions. The RCMP's well-being ambassadors:
- Provide additional support to the divisions
- Engage with employees
- Identify hazards
- Propose solutions
- Ensure the right programs, tools and resources are in place to best support employee psychological health and safety in each division
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