External Engagement and Coordination: Parliament Hill Incident on October 22nd, 2014 - After Action Review
National Division Review Team
April 29th, 2015
Throughout the document ***** denotes where content was redacted as per the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act.
Due to the content redactions, the report was reformatted and therefore differs from the original version submitted to the RCMP.
On October 24th, 2014, at the request of the Commanding Officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's (RCMP's) National Division, a review was initiated into the October 22nd, 2014 incident on Parliament Hill. This review was led by National Division, under the direction of the Commanding Officer, with assistance from representatives in the RCMP's Internal Audit, Evaluation and Review Branch.
The objective of this after action review is to provide a factual account of key areas related to the response to this event and to make recommendations where gaps or unacceptable levels of risk are identified. It is also intended to provide lessons learned in order to facilitate continuous improvement regarding the provision of security services to Parliament Hill, and to the Prime Minister and visiting dignitaries and interoperability amongst the various agencies involved.
It should be noted that, while the initial Terms of Reference for this review identified a scope that included both internal and external elements, it was determined that due to the historical sensitivities associated with the complex jurisdictional operating environment on Parliament Hill, that the scope would be limited to an evaluation of external coordination and engagement of partners relative to this incident. The RCMP has asked the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) to conduct a separate review of the RCMP's actions during this incident, so as to ensure neutrality and objectivity relative to the review of the RCMP's actions.
This review will examine the RCMP's actions following the gunman's entry into the Centre Block on October 22nd, 2014 through until the time Parliament Hill is reopened to the public on October 24th, 2014. The review will be limited to the protective actions taken by the RCMP in response to the incident on the grounds of Parliament Hill, and will not include any investigative elements or the RCMP actions within the House of Commons, with the exception of the specific actions taken to secure the Prime Minister and the National Division's Emergency Response Team's interventions.
The review will seek to provide answers to the following lines of enquiry:
- Operational Preparedness
- Was an appropriate scenario based plan in place for this type of incident? Was it effectively implemented?
- Were appropriate resources, including policing tools and personnel, available?
- Decision Making
- Were roles and responsibilities clearly defined and fully fulfilled, including command and control responsibilities?
- Were decisions responsive to the evolving incident?
- Operational Communications
- Was communication well managed and coordinated to facilitate response to the evolving incident?
- Were all RCMP units and external partner agencies fully and accurately informed on an on-going basis?
- External Communications
- Was law enforcement communication with the public in general clear and accurate and did it appropriately convey the law enforcement actions and response?
This review will exclude anything pertaining to the RCMP's operational response (as supported by the decision to limit the initial scope), and the gathering and sharing of any pre-incident information regarding the suspect, nor does it include an examination of the resourcing levels of the partner agencies. Moreover, the review will focus on those areas within the purview of the National Division. National Division has a dual mandate: high-profile sensitive investigations and protective operations; however, for the purpose of this review, the focus will be limited to National Division's protective mandate. All efforts will be made to minimize the duplication between this review and any other internal or external review associated with this event.
This review relies on evidence gathered through interviews, questionnaires and through examination of video and other recorded evidence. A focus group was held to gather information on October 31st, 2014 and involved external partners, with some RCMP representation.
The validation of facts took place on an on-going basis throughout this study. A draft version of the report was made available to partners for validation prior to finalization. Partners were also asked to assess the validity of ensuing recommendations; however, the implementation of recommendations will remain the responsibility, where possible, of National Division and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The recommendations that are beyond the purview of National Division and/or the RCMP will be shared with the external stakeholders for their consideration.
Parliament Hill is a symbol of Canadian democracy and a key element for ensuring the continuity of a constitutional government. The importance of ensuring the safety and security of Parliamentarians, visiting Internationally Protected Person's (IPP), personnel and the general public is paramount and it is essential that Parliament Hill is protected to a level that is commensurate with the evolving national and international threat environment. The provision of security services on Parliament Hill must strike a balance between public safety and public accessibility to the grounds of Parliament Hill. At this point in time, ensuring the safety of the people, buildings and grounds within the Parliamentary Precinct is a shared responsibility between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the House of Commons Security Service (HCSS), Senate Protective Services (SPS) and Ottawa Police Services (OPS).
Overview of the Parliamentary Precinct: Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) defines the Parliamentary Precinct as the Crown owned buildings that are occupied by the House of Commons, the Senate and the Library of Parliament. The Parliamentary Precinct can be broken down into two zones: the Parliamentary Secure Zone and the Ancillary Zone. The following is an overview of the buildings that fall within these zones:
- Parliamentary Secure Zone
- Centre Block, East Block and West Block
- Ancillary Zone
- Rideau Committee Rooms (10 Committee rooms) at 1 Wellington Street;
- Victoria Building (40 Senator's offices and 4 Committee rooms);
- La Promenade (62 Members of Parliament, their staff and 3 Committee rooms);
- Confederation Building (Government Ministers, Parliamentarians, and their staff);
- Justice Building (85 Members of Parliament and their staff); and
- Wellington Building (69 Members of Parliament and 10 Committee rooms).
Jurisdictional Overview of Security Services within the Parliamentary Precinct: Jurisdiction over security services within the Parliamentary Precinct is as follows: the House of Commons Security Services (HCSS) is responsible for the safety and security of the central and west sections of the Centre and West Blocks; the Senate Protective Services (SPS) are responsible for the east portion of the Centre Block and the East Block; and the RCMP maintains jurisdictional responsibility for securing the grounds of Parliament Hill and for the security of the Prime Minister and visiting dignitaries while outside of the building, as set out in paragraph 17 (1)(d) of the RCMP Regulations (1988). The RCMP, given their access to required infrastructure (NCRCC, Incident Command System, resources and established networks with other police stakeholders) are also called upon to assume operational lead in the event that any significant incident occurs *****Footnote 1 *****. As police of jurisdiction, Ottawa Police Services (OPS) are responsible for leading criminal investigations, excluding National Security investigations, within the Parliamentary Precinct and are responsible for the areas outside of the Parliamentary Precinct, including Wellington Street and the area of the National War Memorial. It should also be noted that both the House of Commons Security Service (HCSS) and Senate Protective Services (SPS) have also expanded their level of authority and responsibility to include parking enforcement within the Parliamentary Precinct.
Sequence of EventsFootnote 2
On Wednesday October 22nd, 2014 at approximately 9:50 am a gunman shot and killed a member of the Canadian Forces Sentry at the National War Memorial, located at the intersection of Wellington Street and Elgin Street in Ottawa, Ontario. The gunman returned to his vehicle and proceeded to the Elgin Street gate of Parliament Hill, where he abandons his vehicle and enters the grounds of Parliament Hill by foot at 09:52:31. Twenty three seconds later, at 09:52:54, the suspect commandeers the vehicle of a Member of Parliament (MP) that is parked outside of the East Block. At 09:52:58, the RCMP member posted at the East Block, after being alerted by a female pedestrian, radios in that there is a gunman on Parliament Hill. At approximately 09:53:45 the gunman enters the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings, through the front entrance, where gunfire ensues and the suspect is fatally wounded. The grounds of Parliament Hill are closed to the public during and immediately following this event and remain closed to the public until the evening of October 24th, 2014. At 9:55 the Officer in Charge of Criminal and Protective Operations (CROPS), National Division, RCMP is advised of an unfolding incident on Parliament Hill, the Officer in Charge of GDPP is contacted and CROPS is advised that the National Division Emergency Response Team has been deployed to Parliament Hill. At 10:00, CROPS provides the Commissioner with a verbal briefing over the phone. At 10:02 CROPS provides a verbal briefing over the phone to the Commanding Officer of the National Division and the NCRCC is activated *****, in response to the unfolding incident on Parliament Hill, with the identification of an Incident Commander and Deputy Incident Commander occurring at 10:03. At 10:20 a message is sent out to internal/external partners (see Appendix A for the distribution list) advising that the NCRCC has been urgently activated due to the unfolding incidents on Parliament Hill and requesting that they report back and send a representative to the NCRCC. An additional email is sent at 10:20 to National Division's Officers advising of NCRCC activation.
The following timeline depicts the initial engagement of internal and external partners within the NCRCC:
- 10:02 NCRCC Activated, ***** (October 22nd, 2014)
- 10:12 General Duty Protective Policing (GDPP)
- 10:15 CIU/PIU, Incident Director, NCRCC, Radio Tech, Training, OCC and OPS
- 10:20 Sûreté du Quebec, Incident Commander
- 10:25 National Division Communications, Geospatial, Deputy Incident Commander
- 10:30 CBRNE, CRNSS, NVSIS, Scribe
- 10:45 Senate Protective Services, Traffic (Off Site Director)
- 10:48 CSIS
- 10:50 Air Services Ottawa
- 11:00 Central Help Desk, Event Management System, Occupational Health and Safety, PMPD, INSET, TIS/HASP
- 11:02 Ottawa Paramedic Services
- 11:11 VIPPD
- 11:15 City Traffic Management, EMRT
- 11:30 SRR
- 11:32 Negotiator
- 11:33 CROPS
- 11:36 IT Services
- 11:43 Gatineau Police
- 11:45 House of Commons Security Force, NOC, HQ Protective, RIC
- 11:46 OPP
- 11:55 DND
- 12:03 NCR Tact Troop
- 12:15 CNT RCMP
- 12:30 OC Transpo
- 12:55 City of Ottawa
- 13:30 Ottawa Fire Services
- 14:00 PROS
- 14:17 DSB
- 14:29 PHSU
- 15:00 DLU
- 15:45 NSS
- 16:00 Government Operations Centre
- 17:10 NCRCC Deactivation (October 23rd, 2014)
The following table represents a chronology of key actions undertaken in response to the Parliament Hill incident of October 22nd, 2014 and provides an overview of information that was shared:
|Time||Key Action or Information Provided|
Situation Report: Member of the military shot @ the National War Memorial; suspect is down in the Library; Centre Block suspect may be armed and on the roof of Centre Block; reports of people on roofs and in windows.
|11:20||Situation Report: Information is suspect has been shot and is down in the library; possible suspect in the back of Parliament Hill roof (not confirmed); RCMP ERT is clearing the second floor; OPS Tactical Unit clearing the 1st and 2nd floor; RCMP ERT clearing the 3rd and 4th floor (not completed); Gatineau Police are checking a suspicious boat behind Parliament Hill; waiting on details on possibly a white corolla that might or might not be part of this.|
|18:02||Situation Report: OPS provide an update that as they were going to start releasing the perimeters they received information from a witness that there is a possibility that there are two (2) other individuals possibly involved. Therefore, the perimeter will not be released at this time. This information is being reinvestigated by OPS|
|18:42||Situation Report: *****. RCMP Incident Commander indicates that many people are out of Centre Block; *****.|
Line of Enquiry #1: Operational Preparedness
According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Operational Preparedness is defined as the continuous cycle of planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating and taking corrective actions to ensure effective coordination during an incident response.Footnote 4 The RCMP's Operational Planning Unit and National Capital Region Command Centre is a multi-disciplinary unit that is mandated to provide support to all Protective Operations in the National Capital Region (NCR). They are responsible for the National Capital Region Command Centre (NCRCC), Protective Operations, Operational Planning/Coordination of Major Events, Visits and Demonstrations in the NCR, Protective Operations Information System (POIS), Geo- Spatial and Mobile Command Post (MCP).
The Operational Planning/Coordination Unit serves as a point of contact for various internal and external partners, and is responsible for the overall coordination and administration of planning meetings, as well as for the development of integrated operational plans in relation to major events, visits and demonstrations within the National Capital Region.
This continuous cycle of planning is purposed to ensure the following:
- Appropriate operational plans are in place and valid;
- Resources capabilities are clearly defined and commensurate to the threat environment;
- Human, financial and capital resources are available to operationalize and sustain the necessary response to a critical incident; and
- Interoperability and integration amongst the various responders.
A. Operational Planning
Operational planning is the process whereby strategic organizational goals and objectives are aligned with tactical goals and objectives. Operational plans are predefined courses of action that culminate into an overall response that is believed to have the highest probability of achieving success, relative to an organization's strategic and tactical goals and objectives. Emergency Operation Plans (EOP) combine the four interrelated actions of preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery relative to an emergency situation/critical incident, like the events of October 22nd, 2014. In crises situations, organizations shift into a reactive mode, and the likelihood of communication breakdowns increase. An EOP strives to alleviate the potential impact of communication breakdowns on operational responses by:
- Assigning responsibility to organizations and individuals for carrying out specific actions at specific times and places relative to a specific situation;
- Clearly defining governance structures (authorities and organizational structures);
- Detailing how resources (human, financial and capital) will be protected during an emergency;
- Identifying the resources available for use during the response to an emergency situation; and
- Articulating mitigation strategies that are acceptable in responding to an emergency situation.
Given the jurisdictional complexity of the Parliamentary Precinct, it is essential that all service providers have a common understanding of the operational response requirements during a critical incident. Responses on behalf of the various service providers must be cohesive and seamless, so as to ensure the efficient and effective management of the critical incident, given that this desired outcome is directly associated with the overall strategic and tactical objectives of public safety. In order to evaluate operational preparedness through the lens of operational planning, relative to the October 22nd, 2014, it is beneficial to examine the issue based on the four interrelated tenants of emergency operational plans: preparedness/prevention, mitigation, response and recovery. Using this framework, the following conclusions were made in relation to the incident of October 22nd, 2014 and Operational Planning:
Preparedness relates to the training and exercise activities that will facilitate the response to a critical incident and/or the operationalization of an Operational Plan. Training (i.e. Scenario Based Training, IARD Training) empowers response personnel with appropriate knowledge and the necessary skills to ensure that they can fulfill their expected responsibilities. Exercises serve as a complement to training, providing a forum by which the response of personnel, in accordance with their expected responsibilities, is evaluated and the overall operational plan is validated. Preparedness also serves as a means to mitigate risks associated with an expected incident.
I1: Lack of Joint Training Exercises for law enforcement and security service providers to the Parliamentary Precinct.
Despite the fact that law enforcement and security service providers within the Parliamentary Precinct spend a significant portion of their time training to master essential operational skills, however, it has historically been accomplished independently. Joint training exercises amongst all law enforcement and security force responders within the Parliamentary Precinct are nominal. The incident of October 22nd, 2014 highlights the importance of ensuring that all first responders in a multijurisdictional environment are familiar with the various operational approaches of partner organizations and have a pre-established and cohesive approach to responding to a critical incident within the Parliamentary Precinct. This pre-existing knowledge, pre-established trust and synergistic reactionary response will facilitate the effective and efficient mitigation of a threat(s) by all first responders during a critical incident.
The value of joint training in responding to a critical incident in a multi jurisdictional environment is evidenced by the success of National Division ERT and OPS ERT in fulfilling their mandate of securing and evacuating the buildings within the Parliamentary Precinct on October 22nd, 2014.
I2: Inability of first responders to deliver urgent trauma care in critical incidents.
In a critical incident, the matter of life or death can be directly attributed to the first responder's ability to provide life saving techniques and strategies to trauma victims. While the events of October 22nd, 2014 placed limited pressure on the ability of first responders to provide urgent trauma care, *****.
I3: Ability to conduct mass evacuations on the grounds of Parliament Hill and confusion surrounding access and evacuation routes within the Parliamentary Precinct.
Mass evacuations on the grounds of Parliament Hill and within the Parliamentary Precinct present unique challenges to the organizations that are required to implement them. In crises situations, the greatest risk of injury/harm stems not from the source of the crises but from the chaos that ensues as a mass of people try to exit a contained area. Furthermore, emergency personnel *****
The scope of this review is not to identify mitigation actions that could have been leveraged to reduce the likelihood and/or impact of a critical incident of this nature occurring. However, during the course of the focus group and various review activities, *****
I4: Vehicular Traffic on Parliament Hill
Despite the controls that are in place at the Vehicle Screening Facility (VSF), *****
For the purpose of this review and in recognition of the independent reviews requested into the incidents within the House of Commons and the RCMP's tactical/operational response to the incidents of October 22nd, 2014, the focus will be on responses, as they relate to time sensitive actions taken with external partners/stakeholders, during a critical incident while recognizing the little allowance for error in responding to these incidents.
I5: Availability of up-to-date floor plans for the Parliamentary Precinct.
For the purpose of this review, recovery relates to the time sensitive recovery actions that are a natural extension of the response action (i.e. Surge Capacity and Operational Readiness).
I6: Surge Capacity and Operational Readiness
This incident saw the primary engagement of four principal responders (RCMP, OPS, HCSS and SPS), each with their own capacity to respond *****.
Following the critical incident, the grounds of Parliament Hill were closed to the public until the evening of October 24th, 2014. In addition, an exterior perimeter was established by OPS surrounding the grounds of Parliament Hill and the War Memorial, in order to protect the integrity of the ongoing criminal investigation. Furthermore, once the grounds were reopened and the perimeter was lifted, *****.
I7: NCRCC capacity to sustain long periods of 24/7 operations.
Line of Enquiry #2: Decision-making
The ability to make timely and effective decisions during a critical incident is fundamental to the success of an operational response and to the resolution of an incident. In reviewing the decision-making process and governance structures surrounding the October 22nd, 2014 Parliament Hill incident, the focus was on whether or not all personnel involved in the emergency response to this critical incident had a thorough and consistent understanding of decision-making standards, that these existing standards were adhered to and in support of ensuring operational responses were timely, and that the varying Incident Management/Command approaches were cohesive and integrated. Several issues arose with respect to the decision-making process and the following provides an overview of the issues, recommendations as well as best practices surrounding this line of enquiry.
I8: Jurisdictional Complexity of the Parliamentary Precinct
As indicated previously, there is significant complexity as it relates to the issue of jurisdiction over security services within, and surrounding the Parliamentary Precinct. Because of existing relationships and coordination between the RCMP, HCSS and SPS, overall decision-making was effective. However, accountability and governance remain in silos and could prove problematic in addressing the gaps and recommendations in this and other reviews while limiting operational and administrative efficiency.
I9: Structural Concerns within the NCRCC
In recognition of the need for the effective and efficient management of an incident or a major event in the National Capital Region (NCR), the NCRCC is a central and permanent facility, which serves as an established and recognized point of authority responsible for the direction, control, coordination and support. Under the direction of the OIC Criminal and Protective Operations, National Division, the NCRCC's mandate is to gather and process the information required for synergistic decision-making and to plan for and manage the support for responses to incidents, emergencies, disasters or major events hosted in the National Capital Region. The NCRCC is comprised of representatives from all participating agencies and in a crisis situation (as defined by a serious event, large demonstration or terrorist incident in the National Capital Region) that constitutes a threat to the security of Canada or to an Internationally Protected Person, the NCRCC is activated. *****
Upon activation, the NCRCC is responsible for the following:
- Maintaining a centralized and systematized communication, while housing the Communications Centre for the Major Event;
- Regulating and monitoring personnel and equipment requirements;
- Acquiring, analyzing and disseminating intelligence and relevant information;
- Coordinating activities amongst participating agencies; and
- Accurately maintaining a daily occurrence log (Event Management System - EMS) that records key response activities, including:
- Activation and deactivation
- Internal and external emergency notifications
- Significant changes in the emergency situation
- Major response actions, commitments of resources and requests for additional resources from external sources
- Issuance of protective action recommendations to responders and the general public
- Responder casualties
- Containment or termination of the incident
- Other pertinent information.
On October 22nd, 2014 the NCRCC was activated *****. Significant concerns surrounding the structure within the NCRCC were expressed as various partner organizations had several representatives within the command centre. Conflicting information was being provided to the Incident Commanders, complicating the decision-making process and impeding the ability of the NCRCC to effectively and efficiently fulfill its operational mandate. In addition to conflicting information, there was a complete void of investigative information being communicated to the NCRCC, further impeding the ability to make informed decisions that see tactical responses aligned and in support of investigations.
Best Practice: As a result of the Moncton incident, a recommendation was put forth that Air Services be engaged at the onset of NCRCC or DEOC activation. This recommendation was implemented for the October 22nd, 2014 incident and was well received and value added. *****
Given the heavy regulations of the Canadian aviation industry, the onsite resource was able to provide necessary information surrounding industry regulations while serving as a direct and timely link to aviation resource requirements.
I10: Divergent Application of the Incident Command System (ICS) Model as an Incident Management Systems (IMS) for all first responders within the National Capital Region (NCR).
The NCRCC procedures are based on the Incident Command System (ICS) model. The ICS is an Incident Management System (IMS) that provides standardized organizational structures, functions, processes, terminology, accepted practices and procedures that are essential to the effective and efficient planning and direction of operations in crisis situations. This model provides a scalable management structure and system for the planning and conduct of emergency operations, ranging from small-scale to complex multi-jurisdictional and/or disciplinary incidents. When the NCRCC (which serves as National Division's Emergency Operations Centre) is activated for an incident, the Incident Director assumes command and receives policy guidance and/or operational direction from the Commanding Officer (CO) and the Criminal Operations Officer (CROPS). The ultimate purpose of the ICS model is to facilitate a centralized and coordinated approach to decision-making in order to ensure the efficient and effective response to a planned event or critical incident. The Government of Canada and all DEOC's have adopted this model, which has been proven and highly refined over the last few years.
OPS and the RCMP follow the ICS model and are trained and accredited in Critical Incident Command by the Canadian Police College. The Critical Incident Commanders Course is a police-certified tiered approach (Level 100, 200, 300, and 400/400-2) that is taught at the Canadian Police College and is available to any member of a Canadian law enforcement agency who will be responsible for leading and commanding a critical incident (as defined by RCMP Policy: Tactical Operations Manual, Part 1- Incident Commanders, Section 2.1.1). However, the Incident Commanders Course is a police-certified tiered approach (Level 100, 200, 300, and 400/400-2) that is taught at the Justice Institute of British Columbia. This course is available to any individual who would be responsible for leading, managing and/or commanding a critical incident. Critical incidents are defined as unplanned events such as armed and/or barricaded persons, suicidal persons, workplace violence, spontaneous active shooter, natural and man-made disasters, transportation disasters and other life threatening events.Footnote 5 Critical incidents require special organizational skills and abilities on the part of responders managing personnel in order to attain a successful outcome. These special skills make it essential that all first responders (with a jurisdiction) have consistent and appropriate training in order to ensure the seamless management of crisis situations. Having a common understanding and approach to a wide range of crisis and critical-incident intervention strategies, will ensure that all responders within a specific jurisdiction are able to manage and control a complex critical-incident environment. *****
I11: Lock Down Authorities within the NCR
In response to the incident, several government buildings in the downtown core of Ottawa, Ontario and in Gatineau, Quebec, were placed on lock-down. There was a lack of clarity surrounding what organization had the jurisdictional authority to issue and lift the lock-down of these facilities, and while the decision was made by the Privy Council Office via the Government of Canada's Operations Centre, an assumption was made that the RCMP was responsible for lifting the lock-down.
I12: Interpretation of Legal Authorities within the Parliamentary Precinct
As a result of the jurisdictional complexity of the Parliamentary Precinct and the various authorities of each law enforcement organization mandated to deliver protective and security services to the grounds of, and people within Parliament Hill, there was a lack of clarity surrounding whether or not this incident was a criminal or national security investigation. While authority over national security investigations remains within the RCMP's purview, a grey area exists relative to investigations on Parliament Hill and whether or not they are national security investigations or criminal investigations, and as such the mandate of the police of jurisdiction (OPS).
I13: Divergent interpretations of section 17.1(3)(ii) of the RCMP Regulations, 1988.
The incident of October 22nd, 2014 reinforced the challenges that arise in relation to how the various security forces within the Parliamentary Precinct interpret the RCMP's mandate to protect the Prime Minister, as defined by section 17.1(e)(ii) of the RCMP Regulations, 1988. This section indicates that 'In addition to the duties prescribed by the Act, it is the duty of members who are peace officers to protect, within or outside of Canada, whether or not there is an imminent threat to their security, the Prime Minister of Canada.' *****
I14: Operational Readiness and Coordination of National Headquarter resources.
In responding to the short- and long-term resourcing requirements that were a direct result of the incident on October 22nd, 2014, all of National Division's operational and administrative resources were deployed. The depletion of National Division's resource base and the remaining resourcing/service delivery gaps were filled by operational and administrative employees from National Headquarters. However, there were some coordination challenges and inconsistent messaging between National Division and NHQ, resulting in confusion and frustration amongst employees.
Line of Enquiry #3: Operational Communications
For the purpose of this review, operational communications will be defined as all communications amongst responders in support of an operational purpose. Inefficient and ineffective operational communications during a critical incident will not only result in a breakdown in operational responses, but create undue frustration and confusion amongst stakeholders, negatively impact the reputation of all organizations involved, and increase the length of time for complete resolution of a critical incident. While several of the operational communication challenges that arose throughout this review can be directly attributed to the complexity of the jurisdictional environment within the Parliamentary Precinct, the following is an overview of the specific issues and recommendations associated with operational communications throughout the October 22nd, 2014 incident on Parliament Hill.
I15: Interoperability of Communication Technology
Interoperability amongst the various service providers remains an unresolved challenge that results in fragmented communications that impede timely decision-making relative to operational responses during a critical incident. Generally, all operationally based radio communications are managed by one Operational Communication Centre (OCC), however, the operational communications within the Parliamentary Precinct are managed by three distinct communication centres: the RCMP's, Senates, and House of Commons. The operational implications of interoperability issues associated with operational communications were realized on October 22nd, 2014 and created unnecessary delays with respect to awareness surrounding the unfolding situation. As an example, the initial 911 call dispatched *****.
At this point, the RCMP member, over the radio, advised of the gunman on Parliament Hill. This call triggered the response from the various units (PHSU, GDPP, Demo, ERT, PMPD) that were either on, or in close proximity to, Parliament Hill that day. The House of Commons Security Force also carries an RCMP radio and this access to RCMP communication should provide them with situational awareness, *****
I16: Communication centres in makeshift (secondary) command posts.
Upon activation the NCRCC is staffed with the appropriate representatives from various internal and external stakeholders that facilitate its ability to fulfil its role as a primary command post that provides guidance and timely decisions to the front line responders during a planned event or critical incident. During the October 22nd, 2014, a makeshift command post was also established *****, purposed to provide a centralized point of coordination for all tactical responders and bridge communications between the NCRCC and the front-line responders, *****
I17: Integration of member-to-member communication during a critical incident.
As a critical incident unfolds, it is essential that all responders have the capability for member-to- member integrated communication. At an early stage of this incident, the RCMP's Incident Commander requested that the OCC patch through communications *****
I18: Lack of Standardized Radio Protocol
I19: Network coverage for RCMP SmartPhone data and voice communications.
I20: Inability to communicate with the occupants locked down in the buildings of the Parliamentary Precinct.
I21: Delays in providing all key partners (and potential responders) in the National Capital Region with situational awareness surrounding the critical incident of October 22nd, 2014.
Line of Enquiry #4: External Communications
The significance of communication should never be understated. Organizations are reliant on internal and external communication as a means of exchanging ideas, message or information/intelligence. In the absence of communication, the ability of an organization to function is inhibited. During a crisis situation, the importance of communication increases exponentially. While the previous section focused on Operational Communications, this section is intended to explore the issue of external communications during the incident of October 22nd, 2014. The issue of external communication was examined through the following lenses: coordination of communications with various internal and external stakeholders, external communications throughout the incident, and internal crisis communications. In addition to the identification of external communication gaps, a series of best practices were also identified. The following is an overview of the issues, recommendations and best practices associated with external communications during the October 22nd, 2014 Parliament Hill incident.
I22: Lack of coordination between National Division communications and National Communications surrounding the first press conference held at National Division.
National Division had a communications team available at the Division (translator, webmaster, office manager) which was available to support the logistics associated with the first press conference that was being held at National Division. Representatives from National Communications were deployed to National Division to assist in the press conference; however, the National Division communications team was not integrated into the coordination process. This lack of coordination resulted in gaps surrounding the use of social media, translation and logistics, in accordance with existing National Division communication standards.
Best Practice: National Division Communications were in constant communication with the Communication and Media Relations Unit at OPS. This reciprocal relationship enabled the dissemination of joint media releases and fostered information sharing between the RCMP's National Division and Ottawa Police Service, resulting in coordinated and consistent messaging surrounding the incident while alleviating any confusion that could arise from having conflicting messaging from a variety of sources.
I23: External communications from occupants within the Parliamentary Precinct throughout the incident.
As the incident was unfolding, it was highlighted that occupants locked down within the Parliamentary Precinct were providing operational movements and situational details via various media sources (i.e. social media, live phone interviews). *****
I24: Internal communications during a crisis situation.
While the majority of communications in the National Capital Region that require the engagement of National Division Communications and National Communications at RCMP Headquarters occur for planned events, the timeliness associated with communications during a pre planned event should not be expected during a crisis situation/critical incident. There was significant confusion and additional pressures placed on the National Division communications representative in the NCRCC by various representatives from National Communications at Headquarters. Gaps were also identified as they related to ensuring that the Communications lead in the NCR was provided with timely information on operational decisions that would result in an increase in media requests.
Best Practice: While traditional media plays an important role as a vehicle for communication during a critical incident, the increasing popularity of social media is evident. Social media is a communication vehicle that provides real-time information direct from a followed source. The use of social media (Twitter) to deliver critical messages to the public and media during the Moncton incident reiterated the value that this tool can provide. This best practice was duplicated during the Parliament Hill incident on October 22nd, 2014, with National Division communications leveraging social media via Twitter to issue 26 real-time messages to the public. From the first tweet at 9:53 on October 22nd, 2014 advising citizens to stay away from rooftops and windows in the downtown core to the last tweet at 19:05 on October 23rd, 2014 thanking the public for their cooperation, National Division communications were able to disseminate messages that provided support to the ongoing investigation, enhanced public safety, and ensured that the public remained informed of the status surrounding the unfolding situation. In addition to providing information to the general public, the use of social media as a best practice served as a tool to proactively communicate critical messages to the media, resulting in a decrease in media requests immediately following each Tweet. As a result, the 26 individual tweets resulted in an individual average of 381 total of retweets (with one message being retweeted 3749 times). These messages were able to reach a wider and broader audience faster than traditional communication mechanisms. Moving forward, it is essential that the best practice of leveraging social media as a vehicle for all communications (i.e. during a critical incident and as a means to increase public awareness), in accordance with the Government of Canada's Social Media Policy, be continued.
The tragic events that occurred in Ottawa on October 22nd, 2014 have undoubtedly altered the Canadian landscape. While the objective of this review is to provide a factual account of key areas related to the external response and coordination of stakeholders surrounding this event while making recommendations for improvement where gaps or unacceptable levels of risk were identified, the efforts and engagement of all internal and external partners/stakeholders should not go unnoticed. When faced with a crisis situation, these organizations worked together to ensure the timely and safe resolution of this critical incident and were courageous in their operational responses, all with a goal of restoring public safety. Moving forward, National Division remains committed to addressing the recommendations outlined within this review. These lessons learned and best practices will further foster National Division's commitment to continuous improvement while fulfilling its mandate and commitment to delivering world-class protective operations.
List of Recommendations and Follow-up
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