RCMP update – Implementation of the MacNeil recommendations
The events that transpired in Moncton, New Brunswick on June 4th, 2014, resulted in the tragic deaths of Constables Douglas Larche, Dave Ross and Fabrice Gevaudan and injuries to Constables Eric Dubois and Darlene Goguen. RCMP members were the specific target of the shooter and an entire community's sense of safety and security was undermined. The nature of this tragedy and deaths of our members demanded that we understand the facts of the event and our response in order to learn from them and enhance the safety of our officers and our communities.
On June 30th, 2014, Commissioner Paulson appointed Assistant Commissioner Alphonse MacNeil (retired) to conduct an independent review to better understand all facets surrounding the Moncton shooting and make recommendations that could assist our members in the future when responding to these types of incidents. Mr. MacNeil conducted a comprehensive and critical assessment of what took place and submitted his final review (the Report) on December 1st, 2014, which included 64 recommendations for consideration by the RCMP. The Report concluded that the initial RCMP officer response was robust, appropriate, and displayed correct risk assessment and decision-making. As well, the Report reiterated the key role the community of Moncton played during the incident including the subsequent operational success given the shooter's arrest and no further casualties.
"It is our obligation - our duty - to make sure that we can be as prepared as possible to meet these threats."
All recommendations were accepted and led to the development of the RCMP's action plan, (the RCMP Response), which focused on improving policies and creating new operational procedures to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of our members, employees and the communities we serve.
On January 16th, 2015, Deputy Commissioner Armstrong publicly released the Report and the RCMP Response. At that time, a commitment was made to update the members of the RCMP and the public in one year on the progress of implementing each recommendation.
This update outlines the determined approach the RCMP has taken to address the 64 recommendations outlined in the Report:
- 42 recommendations have already been implemented;
- 52 recommendations, in total, will be implemented by April 2016; and
- 12 remaining recommendations have advanced significantly, with many planned to be implemented by the end of March 2017.
In the RCMP Response to the MacNeil Report, the recommendations were divided under five broad themes: supervision; training; technology and equipment; communications; and aftercare. This update document outlines the key actions the RCMP has undertaken in the past year to address each of the five themes. A detailed summary chart of each recommendation's response and status is available upon request.
Over 3,300 RCMP members are now trained in the use of the patrol carbine.
The RCMP recognizes the extraordinary challenges that the officers and their supervisors faced during the Moncton shooting. The Report identified opportunities for the RCMP to provide frontline supervisors with additional training and support for critical incidents. The RCMP has taken a number of steps to address this important area:
- A quick reference card has been developed for all frontline supervisors to aid them in leading a response to an unfolding critical incident.
- Numerous table top scenarios were developed and sent to all detachments across the country. Supervisors and their teams were required to work through the scenarios to determine how they would respond to the various situations presented in each scenario.
- A mandatory online course titled "Initial Critical Incident Response" has been developed and is available to all members of the RCMP.
- A classroom course focusing on leadership during critical incidents will be completed by the end of 2016.
- All Divisions have enhanced or created a new process to ensure experienced non-commissioned officers are available to assist the Operational Communications Centres in providing timely situational awareness and guidance to frontline supervisors managing critical events.
The RCMP has acquired over 4,000 patrol carbines.
The Report identified a number of training gaps that related to how officers respond to high-risk critical threats. Several recommendations aimed to enhance components of use of force training that the RCMP was already delivering to its members, including the expedited rollout of patrol carbine training and Immediate Action Rapid Deployment (IARD) training for responding to active shooters. The following are some of the training products and courses that have been developed:
- All Divisions procured additional patrol carbines and delivered a robust training schedule in 2015 that continues in 2016 and beyond. A training target of 25% of all frontline personnel was achieved in 2015. A new target of 50% has been set for 2016.
- The IARD course that focuses on indoor active shooters has been enhanced with the addition of more scenarios and the creation of an online pre-course. This will be a mandatory two-day course for all members to complete within three years.
- A one-day IARD course that focuses on an outdoor active shooter is being developed and will also be a mandatory course. Both IARD courses will be ready for delivery in April 2016.
- All cadets at Depot now receive both carbine and IARD training immediately after they graduate.
- The Annual Firearms Qualification (AFQ) training for both the pistol and the carbine underwent substantive changes that include more dynamic/advanced shooting drills. The traditional course of fire where targets are scored has been replaced with a "round accountability" format where all bullets must hit the target. Both revised AFQs will be launched on April 1st, 2016.
- A number of training videos have been developed to further educate members on specific officer safety related topics. The videos produced include IARD responses to both indoor and outdoor active shooters, cover and concealment, and the ballistic capabilities of various calibers of ammunition.
- All members are now entitled to a free annual allotment of practice ammunition in order to remain proficient with their firearms skills. All Divisions will also have to ensure that practice sessions with instructors are held each year.
Equipment and technology
Public and officer safety remains the RCMP's top priority.
The Report included a number of recommendations relating to new equipment and improving the deployment/procurement of the current equipment. The following are some of the initiatives that are being completed:
- The procurement and rollout of patrol carbines has been expedited across the country.
- A significant amount of research has been completed with a goal of obtaining a Common Operating Picture (COP) technology platform. This includes a pilot project conducted in New Brunswick in the summer of 2015 to establish the RCMP's needs for a COP product. The benefit of a COP includes better communication and coordination between all members, and partner agencies, when responding to a critical incident. A project team has been assembled that will progress this recommendation to rollout to our Critical Incident Commanders and Emergency Response Teams in early 2017.
- As the Report recommended, the RCMP analyzed the process of procuring/deploying priority officer safety equipment keeping in mind the strict government guidelines that must be followed. The RCMP created an Officer Safety Equipment Oversight Committee that is composed of key senior managers. Priority officer safety equipment has been identified and the entire lifecycle of each item will be monitored by the committee to ensure timely advancement of the procurement, training and health and safety components for each piece of equipment.
- The RCMP has created a Unit Level Quality Assurance review that focuses on firearm maintenance, tracking annual firearms qualifications and ensuring adequate levels of ammunition are stored in each detachment. This review is mandatory with a completion date of March 31st, 2016.
- A video that demonstrates the proper use of both our Hard and Soft Body Armour has been produced and is available to all RCMP members.
- A number of recommendations focused on technology/equipment as it relates to officer safety issues. These recommendations are all being advanced but due to the sensitivity surrounding certain policing techniques and officer safety, there will not be a public update.
Technology and equipment are vital to improve the safety of RCMP members. The RCMP is committed to working with our provincial, territorial, and municipal government partners to address the gaps and challenges in the use, deployment, and procurement of technology and equipment.
The Report discussed a number of communication challenges, both internally and externally, during the June 4th incident. The RCMP has updated equipment and procedures to strengthen communications during critical incidents, including:
- A five-year National Radio Program Strategic Plan that will have all Divisions using a digital encrypted radio system is being rolled out. The new digital radio system will enhance radio coverage, operational effectiveness and officer safety.
- A policy change was made to allow members to use plain language during critical events instead of the traditional "10 code."
- The actions to enhance our ability to monitor social media to further both our investigations and communications with the public are continuing with work underway to identify a suitable product.
- A new RCMP National Crisis Communication Guide was developed and includes a number of communication products, check lists and standard operating procedures to assist communications and media relations personnel during a critical incident.
The RCMP understands that individuals involved in critical incidents need a significant support network to help address the emotions and stress associated with these difficult circumstances. A number of initiatives that address aftercare for both our members and their families have been advanced:
- A Critical Incident Stress Management – Care and Support Guide is being developed to ensure employees, families and volunteers are directed to the appropriate aftercare services. This will be published in April 2016.
- An agreement with Veterans Affairs Canada is being finalized that will ensure that the members and families affected by a critical incident receive ongoing counseling as needed.
- The Fallen Members Guide is being revised to address a number of the Report's recommendations as they relate to regimental funerals, family liaison duties and survivor benefits. This will be published in February 2016.
Public and officer safety remains the RCMP's top priority. The RCMP has responded to the MacNeil Report by leading significant improvements in supervision, training, equipment, communications and aftercare to assist with future RCMP responses to this type of incident. With these actions, the RCMP has:
- provided additional tools and training to frontline supervisors to manage critical incidents;
- improved training activities to provide its members with additional skills and tools to assist in responding to critical incidents;
- enhanced the deployment of specialized technology and equipment required to respond to critical incidents;
- provided significant improvements for effective communications among officers, and with the public, when responding to critical incidents; and
- improved aftercare support for families, officers, employees, volunteers and the public following such tragic incidents.
There has always been and there will continue to be deadly threats to police officers in this country. However, as Commissioner Paulson has previously noted, "It is our obligation - our duty - to make sure that we can be as prepared as possible to meet these threats".
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