There is no question that the front line RCMP officers and first responders went above and beyond the call of duty last week during the tragic shootings. They were faced with an unprecedented and unimaginable situation where the culprit made himself invisible to the police, and conducted his terror over sixteen locations across northern Nova Scotia.
When the final details come out, I believe that we will hear about some incredible acts of bravery by those officers. Certainly Constable Heidi Stevenson did not hesitate to put herself in harms way in an effort protect the public and stop this deranged shooter. She lost her life in that effort, and we will not forget her courageous act.
Looking forward, every step that can be taken to prevent another unexpected calamity like this must be taken to ensure the safest possible situation for the public, first responders and RCMP officers.
For three years, RCMP officials have been doggedly determined to ignore their own 2004 RCMP Expert Panel warnings about emergency communications. Against the repeated warnings by this RCMP expert panel, the RCMP is planning to co-locate both major police 911 emergency communication centers in Dartmouth.
In addition to ignoring the RCMP Expert Panel findings, the leading authorities in 911 emergency communications rank “geographic separation” as the primary safety issue. At this moment, Nova Scotia meets that primary safety requirement, but the RCMP plan to eliminate it.
We will then have all of our emergency communication eggs in one basket.
As a result, emergency communications in Nova Scotia is taking a step backwards at a time of unprecedented emergency events. Since January, Nova Scotia has been surprised by earthquakes in Dartmouth, a global pandemic, and the horror of an unprecedented series of murders.
There are more risks now than ever before and they are not predictable. Now is not the time to experiment with a plan that does not meet standards.
I intend to keep pressing the RCMP officials to comply with their own very specific safety warnings, and to conform to the primary safety standards established by the leading international emergency communications experts.
RCMP emergency communications must be the highest priority in order to protect the public and first responders, including RCMP officers themselves.