On Friday, Nova Scotians received an emergency alert to let them know that police were on the scene of a wooded area in Hammonds Plains for reports of gunshots fired, which turned out to be a false alarm.
But tension was at an all-time high given the province’s recent shooting spree where a man dressed as an RCMP officer killed 22 people in northern and central Nova Scotia.
Now security experts say lives could have been saved last Saturday if the RCMP had sent out an emergency alert like the one that was recently received.
National security and intelligence lecturer at Carleton University in Ottawa, Leah West, is one of the security experts who says RCMP should have used the emergency alert when they took to Twitter telling residents to stay indoors.
But she believes RCMP didn’t send one out because it’s a tool the detachment had never used before for a shooting.
“An emergency is not the time you want to be developing or thinking about using new tools. So the fact that the RCMP hadn’t considered it before makes it not surprising that they wouldn’t have used it in a time like this,” said West.
Moreover, Dalhousie professor Kevin Quigley, who is another security expert, says the tactics the suspect used likely caught the RCMP by surprise.
These tactics include the uniform, the fake RCMP car and the remote location where the shooting happened.
“It just seemed like such a dramatic event, there was such a surprise element, so they were probably struggling to understand what was going on, so one has to have a certain level of sympathy for that situation,” said Quigley.
According to Premier Stephen McNeil, the province’s emergency management office reached out to the RCMP at the time to aid with an alert.
However, an RCMP top official says they were close to issuing an alert, but then officers had killed the suspect.
In light of what happened, Quigley suggests that, moving forward, the RCMP needs to share more information to maintain public trust.
“The RCMP really has to be very open about what happened and they have to get the facts on the table, and … they have to convey the concern that they have and show they are learning from this experience and sharing information so we can all be aware of what happened,” said Quigley.
In order to learn from this tragedy, Quigley says a public inquiry should be the next logical step.