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RCMP sends out defensive internal memo hours before explosive 16×9 investigation

MPs grilled RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson on Parliament Hill today, following a 16X9 investigation into the RCMP's equipment and training and the Moncton shooting.
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson appears at Senate National Security and Defence committee in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 27, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

TORONTO – RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson is slamming a 16×9 report on officer training, equipment and safety, calling it “gotcha” journalism.

Under Fire is a five-month long investigation involving a team of 16×9 journalists, who looked at one of the most horrific killing sprees in Canadian history – a lone gunman, armed with a semi-automatic rifle who killed three Mounties and wounded two others. The officers who first responded to the call were armed only with 9 MM sidearms. A few had shotguns.

For three months, 16×9 asked the RCMP repeatedly to participate through on-camera interviews.

Each request was denied.

You can watch the entire episode of Under Fire, here.

In the memo, obtained by Global News, Paulson says the MacNeil Report – led by retired RCMP assistant commissioner Alphonse MacNeil – into the Moncton shootings and the RCMP’s response to it, “captured everything that needed to be said about the incident and our response.”

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“16 x 9 employs a kind of ‘gotcha’ journalism and my view is the show will do nothing to advance an understanding of the events that killed our three colleagues,” Paulson said in his email to his staff. “For these reasons, both I and other senior leaders declined to be interviewed for the program.”

Paulson’s email says officer safety remains the force’s “top priority” and that “the actions we are undertaking will go a long way to improving the safety for the men and women who so proudly serve our communities.”

However, many officers from across the country seem to disagree. They contacted 16×9 anonymously to complain about the lack of equipment and training.

“I still haven’t even myself received any of the IARD training and I’m hitting 8 years as a Front Line officer! It’s suicide for anyone to go into any active shooter situation,” one of them said. “I only have training in regards to shooting stationary paper targets that don’t move and certainly don’t fire back.”

READ MORE: The carbine

Paulson goes on to say the RCMP did provide 16×9 with “answers to their questions including a timeline of the carbine project that details all actions taken by the RCMP.”

READ MORE: The search for answers

However, many of the questions 16×9 put to the RCMP were left unanswered and we could not find accountability for years of delay rolling out the carbine program.

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You can read the full text of Commissioner Bob Paulson’s note to staff below:

NATIONAL DISTRIBUTION TO INDIVIDUAL MAILBOXES APPROVED BY COMMISSIONER BOB PAULSON ON MARCH 28, 2015. DISTRIBUTION NATIONALE AUX BOÎTES INDIVIDUELLES APPROUVÉE PAR LE COMMISSAIRE BOB PAULSON LE 28 MARS 2015.

(le français suit)

As you may be aware, this Saturday a Global News investigative reporting show, 16×9, will air a story called Under Fire.

This program will focus on the Moncton tragedy that occurred on June 4, 2014 as well as the training and equipment available to the RCMP.

On January 16, 2015, we publicly released the independent review of the Moncton Shootings, completed by A/Commr. (ret’d) Alphonse MacNeil, as well as the RCMP’s response to the MacNeil Report.

The MacNeil report was comprehensive and included 64 recommendations the RCMP accepted. These documents and our public response captured everything that needed to be said about the incident and our response. The day before the release, A/Commr Roger Brown, D/Commr Janice Armstrong and I met with the members of Codiac detachment to listen to their concerns and provide some answers to their questions.

16 x 9 employs a kind of “gotcha” journalism and my view is the show will do nothing to advance an understanding of the events that killed our three colleagues. For these reasons, both I and other senior leaders declined to be interviewed for the program.

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We did provide them with answers to their questions including a timeline of the carbine project that details all actions taken by the RCMP. Over and above the MacNeil Report, there is still an Employment and Social Development Canada investigation of the incident that is ongoing, under Part II of the Canada Labour Code.

Officer safety remains our top priority and I am confident that the actions we are undertaking will go a long way to improving the safety for the men and women who so proudly serve our communities. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your safety, your equipment or your training, please don’t hesitate to speak with your supervisor or line officer.

Bob Paulson
Commissioner