New RCMP backup policy could cost millions
The RCMP's new backup policy could cost tens of millions and see some remote detachments get more officers, while others might be served by Mounties who are flown in by plane, an official with the force said Wednesday.
Deputy Commissioner Bill Sweeney told a press conference in Ottawa that the policy will attempt to eliminate ambiguity about when officers should call for backup.
"We acknowledge that there may be ambiguity in some people's minds today, and we are trying to make sure that does not exist," Sweeney said.
Thenational backup policy comes after two officers were shot to death while responding to calls alone in the North.
RCMP Const. Douglas Scott, 20, was killed in Kimmirut, Nunavut, on Nov. 5. A month earlier, Const. Christopher Warden was gunned down in Hay River, Northwest Territories.
An official announcement with details of the policyis expected in two weeks.
Sweeney saidit is being developed through consultations with RCMP members and all levels of governments.
Sweeney hinted that officers will likely have less say in where they are posted and the practice of allowing Mounties to live outside the communities where they serve will likely end.
'This is not a new concept'
Sweeney said the creation of a new policy does not mean the RCMP hasn't trained its officers in the use of backup before. He said cadets are drilled about how to safely respond to any threat, which includes learning about when to stop, reposition themselves and wait for backup to arrive.
"This is not a new concept that just has emerged as a consequence of recent sad events," Sweeney said. "This has been part of our cadet training for many years."
Sweeney said the national policy will simply reaffirm and clarifythe principles that were already taught.
He noted that the internal RCMP e-mail sent in June that demanded officers justify all use of backup in a claim form was poorly worded and sent the wrong message. The e-mail, written by a senior officer and obtained by CBC News,stated that "just because a person is drunk or in an ugly mood does not justify two members."
Sweeney said officers should not hesitate to call for backup.
"Officer safety cannot be compromised," he said. "There is no expectation that members shouldn't call for backup when they deem it necessary."
Won't hinder ability to serve 911 callers
Sweeneysaid the policy should not be of concern to Canadians who might fear police will wait too long for backup to be of any help.
"Canadians do expect that police will respond when they call 911 and they expect us [immediately], and we will not let them down."
Sweeney warned that the new policy will not eliminate the inherent risks of policing.
"This is a very important point that bears repeating: Our society is full of risks virtually everywhere," he said.
"There are hazards on our streets and highways, there are people who become careless and cause problems, there are others with criminal and evil intentions who don't care about who gets harmed on their way to getting what they are seeking."