BY: LEO KNIGHT
On March 3, 2005 the RCMP suffered their worst loss of life among their members when four officers were killed by James Roszko in Mayerthorpe, Alberta.
There were two subsequent reviews, one internal and one external. Both determined the four officers armed only with their nine millimetre service sidearms were badly outgunned by Roszko and all were shot with a .308 calibre rifle.
The reviews recommended the RCMP supply their members with the more powerful C8 carbines in use by many police agencies across the country. Senior management agreed to get the process going after the 2007 and 2008 reports.
On June 4, 2014, three RCMP officers were killed and two others were wounded by an active shooter armed with long-barrelled weapons in Moncton, New Brunswick. Again, nine years after the incident in Mayerthorpe, they were outgunned. They had no access to any C8 carbines which would have evened the gunfight.
The RCMP, as an organization, was convicted in 2017 under the Canadian Labour Code for failing to provide those members with the training and equipment to deal with such an attack.
You’d almost think that would have lit a fire under the senior management.
You’d think they would have spared no effort to finally put in place the recommendations of the Mayerthorpe reviews and get their members properly equipped and trained.
Yet here we are.
This week, interim Auditor General, Sylvain Ricard, released his spring report which said all front line RCMP officers still don’t have access to the ceramic body armour and carbines needed to respond to a heavily armed active shooter.
Sure, they’ve made progress, but according to Ricard, the roll-out and management of the acquisition, training and supply of the program has been badly mismanaged.
According to the report, by October 2018, they had purchased over 6,000 of the C8 carbines, but still hadn’t identified all of the officers who might need the weapons and training.
In the report Ricard said, “RCMP National Headquarters did not have a full picture of the actual location of the carbines within the divisions,” Ricard wrote. “The RCMP could not confirm that officers who needed the equipment had access to it.”
It’s difficult to claim as an organization, they care about their members. But this is just stunning.
We ask our police officers to keep us safe and we expect them to courageously go toward potential harm to do that. Failing to properly equip and train front line police officers is simply inexcusable.
The Force is having difficulty recruiting and retaining existing members. There’s no wonder why.
I have long referred to the RCMP as 144 years of tradition unhampered by progress. They prove the truth of that statement every day.
An enlightened organization puts its people first and foremost. It hires the best men and women it can. It equips and trains them to do their job and supports them all along the way.
The RCMP, on the other hand, puts the reputation of the Force first and employees are secondary to that.
Leadership in the RCMP has been woefully lacking for much of the last two decades and certainly current leadership doesn’t appear to be the answer that moribund organization needs.
It’s a sad situation for our national police force. But more sad for those men and women who just want to serve their nation.