Moncton shooting: Are police prepared to deal with active shooters?

HALIFAX – Police could have done more to prevent the tragic deaths of three Mounties during Wednesday’s rampage in Moncton, according to a policing consultant.

“We can characterize it as a failure if there is any loss of life,” said Paul McKenna, who has worked with the Nova Scotia Department of Justice, Ontario’s Solicitor General and is also an adjunct professor at Dalhousie University.

McKenna did not assist during the shootings or subsequent manhunt, but said he saw some flaws with how the incident was handled.

“There were a number of officers who were shot and killed as well as officers injured. That’s problematic,” he told Global News

McKenna said he thinks police should have deployed tactical units earlier.

“Removing the regular officers and replacing them with specially trained officers, tactical officers, emergency response officers, if that had transitioned much more quickly into that role, it might have been resolved without the loss of life,” he said.

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McKenna also said higher ranking officers should have been sent out sooner to set up a command centre and work with a contact team.

“One of the characteristics of having a contact team approach is that they are immediately aware they have 360 degree vulnerability. That was absent simply because of the fact officers were killed. They weren’t aware of what was going on around them,” he said.

McKenna said all front line officers should be given more awareness training about active shooter situations.

“What I think is the critical piece here is to ensure there’s enough intelligence, insight and information available to make that rapid transition from having front line officers who may not be fully capable of dealing with these events into the incident command mode, where there’s much greater control and deployment of much more highly trained specialized officers who can address the particularly unique characteristics of active shooters.”

But a former RCMP staff sergeant said he does not think police could have done anything to change the outcome of what happened in Moncton.

“They responded to the scene and he ambushed them. It just happened,” retired RCMP officer Bruce Webb said.

Webb worked with Halifax RCMP until he retired two years ago. He also worked with the Special Emergency Response Team, Canada’s anti-terrorist team.

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He predicts the Moncton shootings will end up being a textbook example for future police training, but he doesn’t think more training could have helped in this situation.

“[The suspect] had certainly a lot of fire power. He had the advantage of shooting before the members got time to set up.”

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police will meet later this year to discuss how to deal with active shooters.

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