A retired RCMP officer, who supervised two of the three Moncton Mounties killed earlier this month, is calling for an external inquiry into the shootings.
"I would highly recommend that as a country, we look at the previous investigations of fatality shootings where the RCMP investigated themselves and say, ‘This is not going to happen this time,'" Terry Mckee told CBC News.
"I know that the RCMP — and I’m only speaking the truth, I’m not disgruntled — I know that the RCMP are big on damage control and I just feel as though we’ve honoured the members who have been injured and who were killed in the line of duty. I feel now, let’s honour the ones that are living," he said.
"They need to be more stress relieved, they need to be better equipped, they need high-power weapons training, they need to have better armament. To hell with the budget. Is the budget worth it over lives?"
On June 4, three RCMP were shot and killed by a heavily-armed gunman:
- Const. Douglas James Larche, 40, from Saint John.
- Const. Dave Joseph Ross, 32, from Victoriaville, Que.
- Const. Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, 45, originally from Boulogne-Billancourt, France.
Constables Éric Stéphane J. Dubois and Marie Darlene Goguen were also wounded in the attack in the southeastern New Brunswick city.
Justin Bourque, 24, of Moncton, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder in connection with the shootings. He is scheduled to return to court on July 3.
'The RCMP is looking for answers too, but investigations take time. We want to be thorough, and cannot rely on speculation and opinion. We must deal in facts and evidence.' - New Brunswick RCMP
The RCMP investigation into the shootings is ongoing and "may take a while to complete," but it will be "thorough," New Brunswick RCMP said in a statement issued late Wednesday afternoon.
"As the investigation continues, there are those coming forward in media interviews offering speculation, innuendo, and rumours as to what took place, along with suggestions about what needs to be done," the statement, entitled Setting the Record Straight, said.
"The RCMP is looking for answers too, but investigations take time. We want to be thorough, and cannot rely on speculation and opinion. We must deal in facts and evidence."
Police cannot provide details about the investigation because it is not yet complete, the statement said. In addition, divulging details could jeopardize the pending court case and the accused's right to a fair trial.
"We will review what happened to determine what took place, and to determine if improvements can be made. That’s how we operate. But we deal in facts and evidence: not opinion, not rumour, and not speculation. The public expects no less of us."
Dispute over vests, weapons
Earlier this week, the spokesman for the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada said Moncton officers did not have the ballistic vests or high-powered rifles recommended several years ago following a review of the deaths of four RCMP officers near Mayerthorpe, Alta., in 2005.
Rob Creasser said ceramic-plated vests, designed to protect against high-powered rifles, had to be flown in from Ottawa and that the officers had only their 9-mm handguns instead of the recommended C8 patrol carbines.
Mckee, who supervised Gevaudan and Larche before he retired as a corporal in February of 2013, says no ceramic-plated vests were available to front line Codiac members and they did not have any training on high-powered weapons.
But the New Brunswick RCMP disputes those claims in its statement.
'Come a long way'
"Hard body armour has been available in Codiac since 2011. Any extra equipment that was brought in from outside Greater Moncton during the search for the shooter was due to the extra police officers brought in," the statement said.
"There have also been suggestions regarding the new C8 patrol carbines. While it is true that all officers do not have training on these yet, it is an ongoing process, and the training and rollout of the C8s is continuing, and that includes in Codiac," it said.
"With both the hard body armour and the C8s, we cannot divulge how many we have or where they are located, as that could compromise officer and public safety. The New Brunswick RCMP does have these tools and will continue to have access to them. However, that does not mean people can expect to see all officers walking around with hard body armour and carrying rifles at all times. We use a measured approach for all calls."
The national RCMP superintendent also defended the force's training and equipment in an interview with CBC News on Wednesday.
Troy Lightfoot declined to discuss any specifics about the Moncton case, but said the RCMP has "come a long way in terms of equipping our members with tools and policy and training that meets our needs."
"To date, we have approximately 1,330 carbines that have been implemented and distributed to divisions, for example, with another 219 on their way this fall," said Lightfoot.
"In terms of hard body armour, close to 5,000 units have been distributed across Canada."
Lightfoot would not say what percentage of officers has access to that armour, or where it is located, but did confirm it may not be issued to individual officers, but rather to a detachment.
Decisions about where equipment is deployed are based on risk assessments specific to the location, he said.