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Mass shooting inquiry: Former Mountie says he quit over quashed alert system proposal

Click to play video: 'N.S. policing structure discussed at mass shooting inquiry'
N.S. policing structure discussed at mass shooting inquiry
The "structure of policing in Nova Scotia" was the topic-of-the-day for the Mass Casualty Commission. Inquiry panelists discussed the needs to improve transparency and police accountability. As Callum Smith explains, questions also centered on whether Nova Scotia’s current policing structure should remain moving forward – Sep 8, 2022

The inquiry investigating the Nova Scotia mass shooting has heard from a former Mountie who says he became so frustrated trying to get the RCMP to adopt a new public alerting system that he quit the police force.

Mark Furey, who later served as Nova Scotia’s justice minister, says that in 2012, he recommended the RCMP start using the National Public Alerting System, which at the time could broadcast intrusive alerts via television and radio.

But Furey says in statements submitted to the inquiry that his superiors shot down the idea, prompting him to take early retirement.

Read more: N.S. inquiry: Senior RCMP officer pushed to withhold safety bulletin on killer

Furey’s recommendation and its subsequent rejection was discussed during inquiry hearings on Friday, when one of the RCMP’s highest-ranking officers was asked why the police force had initially turned its back on what would later become the Alert Ready system.

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Deputy commissioner Brian Brennan said he was not part of discussions about Furey’s 2012 proposal, but he said he recalled conversations at the time about what the proposal would mean in terms of investment, resources, training and policy compliance.

Read more: Nova Scotia’s mass shooting inquiry receives warning about its recommendations

After a gunman killed 22 people in rural Nova Scotia during an April 2020 rampage that stretched over 13 hours, the RCMP faced intense criticism for failing to use the Alert Ready system to issue public warnings through radio, TV and wireless devices.

The Mounties have repeatedly said Alert Ready was not part of their “tool box” at the time, though the police force was in the process of preparing such an alert when the gunman was shot dead by two Mounties on April 19, 2020.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 12, 2022.

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