RCMP one year after Moncton: what’s changed?

WATCH: The RCMP was charged last month under the Canada Labour Code, for failing to provide proper equipment and training, after an investigation into the Moncton shooting. RCMP brass insist there have been improvements, but they won’t give details of what has changed. Vassy Kapelos reports.

RCMP officers who responded to the scene in Moncton a year ago say they were out-gunned by the killer, Justin Bourque.

In a 16X9: The Bigger Picture investigation, front line members told us they needed more carbines, which are semi-automatic guns that allow officers to shoot from a farther distance.

So do they have them? It’s a complex question.

More carbines are now available to members at the Codiac detachment, and retired RCMP officer Terry McKee says between 15 and 20 officers there have been trained on them.

But he says there are still frustrations.

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“The members that do work the front lines sign out a carbine and have to take it to the vehicle and put it in the trunk in a locked box. Is that quick access? I can see their frustration,” McKee said.

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National staff representative Abe Townsend says the force has made a focused effort to improve equipment and training across the country since the Moncton shooting.

“I don’t think I’d stray too far from the truth to say there’s likely training for carbines going on right now in every province and territory in this country,” he said.

As of March, there were 2200 carbines for 12,000 officers, which is still not enough by some accounts.

It’s unclear how many officers have been trained to use the carbine. The other key training officers need for an active shooter situation like the one in Moncton last year is what’s known as IARD – immediate action rapid deployment.

Rates for IARD training vary widely across detachments and provinces.

In March, 59 per cent of members in Moncton had undergone the training, while in Alberta the number drops to 15 per cent and drops even further in Saskatchewan to just 11 per cent.

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We wanted to see exactly how things improved – so we asked the RCMP for its latest numbers on carbines and training.

“Unfortunately, I will not be able to offer you anything,” RCMP spokeswoman Julie Gagnon said in an email.

Liberal MP Wayne Easter believes equipment and training issues continue to plague the force.

“I hear from front line officers nearly every day,” Easter said. “They tell me there’s still not the training, still not the equipment that rank and file members require.”

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Resources in the RCMP appear to be spread thin; 600 members were moved to counter-terrorism units from other departments in the last year.

Security expert Michael Kempa says resource issues have affected the force for years.

“An organization has to say what are our core functions, we obviously can’t be the grab bag for all policing tasks in Canada,” Kempa said.

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney insists his government is willing to provide the necessary funding.

“Our duty is to make sure we are fully supporting the RCMP,” Blaney said.

Ottawa recently boosted funding for the RCMP by $150 million over the next five years, though it isn’t clear how much of that will go to the equipment and training front line officers say they need to feel safe on the job.

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