The RCMP has expedited the use of patrol carbines by officers across the country since three Mounties were killed and two others were wounded when they were shot by a gunman in Moncton, N.B., on June 4, 2014.
One-quarter of the force's front-line officers received training with the carbines in 2015, and a target of having 50 per cent of officers trained has been set for 2016.
"The RCMP has now trained in excess of 3,300 members on the carbine," said Chief Supt. Eric Stubbs.
Stubbs, who led the implementation team for the RCMP, said at a news conference in Moncton Tuesday that the focus has been on training front-line officers.
All RCMP divisions have received additional carbines and training in the use of the short-barrelled rifle that has a longer accurate range than a sidearm or shotgun.
"Nationally, the RCMP has purchased 4,000 carbines," said Stubb. "The revised carbine course is now being delivered across the country [and] includes tactical dynamic shooting drills."
Carbine recommendation in report
The carbine deployment and improved training were two of the 64 recommendations made by Alphonse MacNeil in his 2015 report on the Moncton shootings.
In a news conference Tuesday, the RCMP said it is making "significant progress" on implementing all of MacNeil's recommendations.
Deputy Commissioner Janice Armstrong said 42 of the 64 recommendation have been implemented by the national force. Another 10 will be implemented by April 2016.
Of the remaining 12, many are expected to be implemented by the end of March 2017.
"Progress like this would not be possible without the continued support of all RCMP divisions as well as our contract members at the municipal, provincial, territorial and federal level."
Stubbs told the news conference some of the recommendations wouldn't be discussed due to officer safety and sensitivity.
Rapid deployment training developed
Immediate Action Rapid Deployment (IARD) was developed in response to a training gaps regarding how officers respond to high-risk critical threats.
"Effective April 1, IARD will be mandatory for all members in the RCMP," said Stubbs.
The chief superintendent said the training consists of an indoor two-day course and a one-day outdoor course that all members have to complete within three years.
Stubbs said the carbine course and IARD course are being delivered to all cadets at RCMP Depot immediately after they graduate.
Changes have been made to the annual firearm qualification training for pistols and carbines. Stubbs said the training has been "completely redesigned."
"The traditional course of fire has been replaced with the round-accountability system, which means all rounds fired must hit the target."
Advanced and dynamic shooting drills have been designed for the carbine and the pistol. The RCMP will also supply a free annual allotment of practice ammunition so members can train and remain proficient with their firearms.
All RCMP divisions must ensure that practice sessions with instructors are held each year.
"We also focused on developing the skills of our front-line supervisors to effectively manage an unfolding critical incident," said Stubbs.
Stubbs also spoke about a five-year plan to roll out a digital encrypted radio system for all RCMP divisions. He said the new system will allow members to use plain language during critical events instead of the traditional "10 code."
In addition, recommendations for the aftercare and counselling of members, employees, families and volunteers have been addressed.
"Our job is to ensure that we do what we can to reduce the risk. We can't eliminate it," said Assistant Commissioner Roger Brown, the commander of J Divison for New Brunswick
Brown said he was confident the implementation of the recommendations from the report will allow the RCMP to improve the safety of officers as well as the public.
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RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson had asked retired assistant commissioner Alphonse MacNeil to examine the RCMP's response to the incident.
One of the recommendations was for the RCMP to expedite the deployment of patrol carbines throughout the force and improve training in the use of the weapon. A carbine is a short-barrelled rifle with a longer accurate range than a sidearm or shotgun.
The MacNeil report said the responding officers were outgunned by Justin Bourque during his shooting spree as he roamed through a Moncton neighbourhood.
Bourque was armed with a M305 .308 semiautomatic rifle and a Mossberg 500 12-gauge shotgun, while the Mounties had to rely on pistols and shotguns.
"Many … members stated … had the patrol carbine been available, it would have made a positive difference in this incident," said MacNeil.
Issuing carbines to Mounties was also a key recommendation in a 2011 report in response to a shooting in Mayerthorpe, Alta., in 2005 that resulted in the death of four officers.
"The time it took to roll out the carbine project, including the training and delivery of the weapons to members of the RCMP, has taken far too long," MacNeil said in his report.
New Brunswick RCMP were among the last in the force to receive carbines, according to Assistant Commissioner Roger Brown.
The Moncton RCMP detachment did have some carbines at the time of the 2014 shooting, but no members were trained to use them.
As of January 2015, 120 RCMP officers in New Brunswick had been trained, said Brown.
Hard body armour not worn
The review also noted none of the uniformed officers who responded in the initial stages of the incident was wearing hard body armour.
However, MacNeil concluded the use of hard body armour would not have saved any of the Mounties or reduced the severity of the wounds.
Others recommendations made by MacNeil include:
- Officers have a cellphone and police radio while on duty.
- A radio and data system be developed to allow RCMP members from all Maritime divisions to communicate.
- The RCMP create policy to allow for use of plain language instead of 10-codes in urgent situations.
Labour code charges
In May 2015, Employment and Social Development Canada laid four charges against the RCMP, alleging it had violated the health and safety provisions of the Canada Labour Code in connection with the June 2014 shootings.
The charges include failing to provide offices with the appropriate use of force equipment and training.
The RCMP has chosen to be tried by a provincial court judge on the charges. The RCMP's lawyer, Marc Ertel, said the force will enter a plea to the charges on April 7 at a pretrial conference.
Constables Douglas Larche, Dave Ross and Fabrice Gevaudan were killed by Bourque. Constables Éric Stéphane J. Dubois and Marie Darlene Goguen were wounded.
Bourque, 24 at the time of the shootings, pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder. He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 75 years.