Remarks from Criminal Operations Officer, Chief Superintendent Chris Leather - June 4, 2020

June 4, 2020
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia


Check against delivery

Thank you Supt. Campbell

I will provide you with an update on some of the other overarching areas that we have been looking at in addition to the H-Strong criminal investigation.

Our overall response to the incidents on April 18 and 19 are subject to a number of reviews or independent investigations.

The Nova Scotia Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) is investigating the fatal police-involved shooting of the gunman, as well as the discharge of firearms on April 19 at the Onslow Belmont Fire Brigade Hall.

Both of those investigations are being led by SiRT and are ongoing.

There is something I will add about Onslow because what took place on April 19 as the incident was unfolding, was traumatic for those who were there.

I, along with local RCMP commanders from the area, met with the Chief and Deputy of the Onslow Fire Brigade, to hear firsthand what people experienced.

We had a very respectful and honest conversation, and as partners, we made a commitment to continue to work shoulder to shoulder in our shared responsibility of public safety.

We are moving forward together and are compensating for the damage to the property at the firehall.

There is also an Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) investigation that is underway and again, independent from the RCMP.

ESDC investigates any workplace occupational injury or death at federally regulated workplaces.

The investigators will take an in depth look at the overall response including training, equipment, communications, and tactics of the RCMP.

We are participating fully with the investigation.

Another investigation taking place is the internal Hazardous Occurrence Investigation Team (HOIT) that has been created to investigate the incident from a Canada Labour Code perspective.

The Hazardous Occurrence Investigation Team will also identify any occupational causal factors and corrective measures that can be implemented.

In addition, to those that I have mentioned, there are discussions underway to determine the best approach regarding a formal comprehensive review.

We welcome the opportunity to provide our information and what we know.

We will continue to fully participate in the multiple investigations, processes or reviews that are underway.

While we need to respect these processes and will limit our comments accordingly, we will continue to find that balance, and release or share the information that can be shared where possible.

I am also mindful that questions have been raised around the level of information or intelligence sharing that has, or currently takes place in Nova Scotia.

Following April 18 and 19, a member from another police service within Nova Scotia brought forward a historical police bulletin that dates back to May 2011. It was authored by another police service and distributed by the Criminal Intelligence Service of Nova Scotia (CISNS) in 2011.

While a bulletin existed from 2011, it likely would not have changed the response of April 18 and 19.

It was not searchable or available to our responding officers.

The more we learn about the events that took place on April 18th and 19th, and as Supt. Campbell says, "with the benefit of hindsight",

People are now in a better position to re-assess the provincial Alert Ready System.

Here in Nova Scotia the Alert was used for the first weeks prior to this incident and it was in relation to COVID-19.

To the best of our knowledge the Alert Ready has never been used for an Active Shooter situation by police in Canada.

On April 24, I made the decision to activate Alert Ready, in a separate incident, where credible information came in of shots fired with automatic gunfire moving towards a densely populated area within HRM.

As a result of activating the Alert for a dynamic police incident, we learned the unintended consequences.

Following the Alert there were a large number of people who called 911 to ask non emergency related questions such as should I go pick up my kids, where should I hide, what do I do.

In addition, the Alert was activated well beyond the affected geographic area and what I mean by that is people who live in Prince Edward Island and Yarmouth received the Alert.

This resulted in delays to calls being answered at provincial 911 centres and many calls were not answered at all because of the volume. This had a negative impact on public safety what I mean is people who had true emergencies may not have gotten through.

We are aware it is an available tool and discussions at all levels need to continue around its use.

When activated it impacts all citizens and police services in Nova Scotia.

RCMP is working on national policy to ensure this is addressed. As well we are working with our partners in the province to ensure that when used the system effectively helps to protect public safety.

We commit to sharing those decisions publicly once finalized.

Thank you


Date modified: