NS investigation: the gap is widening between the RCMP and the municipal forces | Portapique massacre: Nova Scotia in mourning

Investigation N.-É.: the gap is widening between the RCMP and the municipal forces | Portapique: Nova Scotia in mourning

Members of Halifax RCMP within the Criminal Investigations Division work alongside Halifax Regional Police officers in an integrated model, but long-standing issues with this arrangement surfaced during the investigation.

The April 2020 shooting strained the already strained relationship between the RCMP and municipal forces across the province.

The Mass Casualty Commission has heard that tensions have escalated over the past two years because the various police forces disagreed on the response to this tragedy.< /p>

Senior officers on both sides said the deterioration in the relationship has occurred at the senior management level, with minimal impact on front-line officers, but one commission member who heads up the roster. investigation disagrees.

It makes a huge difference to people on the front lines not having the support of senior leaders, says Commissioner Leanne Fitch.

They will want to work together. But if there are obstacles at the senior management level, they won't always make it and that's a disservice to public safety.

Leanne Fitch, former Chief of Police of Fredericton and one of three Commissioners of the Mass Casualty Commission.

In the 2020 shooting, in which 22 people were killed, city police chiefs contacted the RCMP to offer assistance.

Among them were Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella and Chief David MacNeil of Truro Police, one of the forces closest to Portapique, where the killings began. p>

Julia Cecchetto, who was then Kentville Police Chief and Chief of the Nova Scotia Association of Chiefs of Police, sent an email on April 19 to all of her colleagues looking for resources. Most responded to offer what they could.

But the RCMP did not accept any offers during or after the 1 p.m. massacre. Instead, she turned to the RCMP in New Brunswick for immediate support on the night of April 18.

The 22 people killed in the April 18-19, 2020 massacre in Portapique, Wentworth, Debert and Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia.

In the months following the killings, RCMP officers from Quebec and Ontario were sent to Nova Scotia to provide relief to Nova Scotia officers.

Superintendent Chris Leather, a senior RCMP officer in Nova Scotia at the time of the shooting, testified last month that calling in municipal forces during a major event is fraught with risk.

"If their thinking is not the same and police forces don't approach a situation in the same way, now is not the time to deal with it", a said Chris Leather.

City forces also complained that they were not kept informed during the shooting. When he testified in June, David MacNeil said he learned from the media that the shooter drove through Truro.

In another point of contention, the RCMP wanted Nova Scotia police chiefs to say the Alert Ready system is not working for police forces, a stance the chiefs did not take. not pressed.

David MacNeil and Dan Kinsella told the commission they knew issuing an alert was an option. Then there is disagreement over who has jurisdiction and control over certain cases and resources within the Halifax municipality.

Dan Kinsella was made aware of the issues with the integrated model current member of the Criminal Investigations Division as soon as he took over as chief in 2019 but he says the Portapique shooting amplified those issues a bit.

Municipal and RCMP members of the division worked side-by-side, but in August the RCMP withdrew its detectives from the division's major crimes unit where they made up approximately 20% of the membership.

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Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella testifies on August 25, 2022 at Mass Casualty Commission, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Dan Kinsella said a new RCMP inspector didn't think the structure was appropriate and decided to handle major crime cases on his own in Halifax.

Chris Leather testified that the significant turnover at the top level of the RCMP offered a chance to start over.

As sad as I am to leave, I am happy for the person who arrives behind me, they can start over and speak with the municipal leaders without this baggage, he said.

There is one main point that the RCMP and municipal forces agree on, the current model of policing in Nova Scotia does not seem to be working.

Officers from both sides told the commission of the difficulties they face in meeting the demands of the police service especially with the lack of budget and personnel.

So While he was provincial justice minister in the former Liberal government, Mark Furey began the process of reviewing policing. Current Justice Minister Brad Johns says that kind of work has been put on hold pending the outcome of the investigation.

Two municipalities in New -Scotland, Colchester and Cumberland, have also begun their own policing reviews to examine whether it is worth keeping the RCMP or moving to a municipal force.

With information from Haley Ryan

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