February 10, 2016 - 7:00 AM
MONCTON, N.B. - More than 3,300 RCMP officers across Canada have been trained in the use of patrol carbine firearms and that number is expected to double over the next year as the force responds to recommendations stemming from the shooting deaths of three Mounties.
Deputy Commissioner Janice Armstrong said Tuesday the force has completed 42 of the 64 recommendations contained in a January 2015 report by retired assistant commissioner Alphonse MacNeil.
"The priority ones for us really focused on those surrounding officer safety, equipment and training," Armstrong told reporters in Moncton. "Those are the areas where we spent a tremendous amount of time and produced a lot of products and videos, training, and the work we are doing through our academy."
In his review of the June 2014 Moncton shootings, MacNeil called for better access to shotguns and rifles, and training to better prepare supervisors for critical incidents.
RCMP Chief Supt. Eric Stubbs said nearly 4,000 carbines have been acquired so far, and officers will be provided with adequate ammunition for training each year.
"This includes 300 carbine rounds, 200 9-mm pistol rounds and 25 shotgun rounds," he said.
Armstrong said they expect to have 50 per cent of officers trained on the carbines by April 2017. A revised course is being offered across the country and to cadets as they graduate.
MacNeil's report also called for standard equipment for emergency response teams and improvements in radio communication.
The review highlighted a number of problems the Mounties faced when they were searching for Justin Bourque, who was arrested following a 28-hour manhunt.
Bourque killed constables Dave Ross, Fabrice Gevaudan and Doug Larche. Constables Eric Dubois and Darlene Goguen were injured.
New Brunswick's commanding officer, Assistant Commissioner Roger Brown, said the force's goal is to protect officers and the public.
"Our job is to ensure that we continue to do what we can to reduce the risk. We can't eliminate it. It is the nature of our profession, the nature of our careers, a career that we chose," he said.
Brown would not divulge how many carbines he now has for use in New Brunswick but said he has enough officers trained to respond to any incident.
"Those members could be on call, they could be in another detachment area, and we can move them around. So it's not about the numbers of the equipment, it's about our ability to respond," he said.
Armstrong said she expects another 10 recommendations will be completed by April, but others, such as new encrypted radio systems, will require more time.
Stubbs said there is a five-year plan to deliver the new radios to all divisions in the country.
"While this may not solve all of our coverage gaps, our ability to communicate with each other will be enhanced," he said.
Armstrong said other changes include new training programs and videos for dealing with rapid deployment situations, enhanced support and training for supervisors to respond to critical incidents, and improved services related to the care of those impacted by such events.
Rob Creasser of the Mounted Police Professional Association said the improvements announced in Moncton show the force is moving in the right direction, but it's unfortunate it takes incidents like Moncton in 2014 and the deaths of four RCMP officers near Mayerthorpe, Alta., in 2005 for things to happen.
"We've had multiple recommendations about equipment and training and resourcing of the RCMP workplace for years and I think it's unfortunate that it takes RCMP members' deaths to really speed things along," he said.
Creasser, a retired member of the RCMP who now works with the professional association representing Mounties, said he constantly hears complaints that the force doesn't have enough resources.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016