RCMP Commissioner Paulson’s Message to Rank and File on Patrol Carbines
There is a Maclean’s article this week that is very critical of the Force, and me in particular, for the manner in which we rolled out the carbines in the context of recent events in Moncton and the murder of our three colleagues.
It’s important for me, for you, for the Force to understand the factors which have contributed to these deaths. That’s why I asked for an immediate review of the circumstances which gave rise to this tragedy: so we can learn and adjust quickly. I’ve written you already about retired A/Commr. Phonse MacNeil’s ongoing review. It’s also why the Employment and Social Development Canada Health and Safety Officer and the RCMP internal Hazardous Occurrence Investigation Team investigations were initiated.
This Maclean’s article though, is not a fair representation of what has happened.
A lot of people in the Force have worked long and very hard to properly get us to where we are in the roll out of these weapons. I maintain that it is a shallow and easy analysis of these murders to link them to the absence of the carbine in the way some people are doing.
From the outset, our strategy for the selection and acquisition of a carbine was framed to do it on a foundation of reliable evidence based analysis of our needs.
We all knew instinctively we needed to acquire a carbine, but we needed to objectively demonstrate our need and document our analysis.
We were working on this well before the Mayerthorpe Inquiry recommended we get one. We knew that the addition of another deadly force option, at a time when we were being condemned for our CEW and broader use of force practices, would require a careful and formal analysis of the need for the carbine, together with the creation of precise policies on its use, its distribution and training.
It is insufficient these days to simply say “everybody said we needed them therefore we got them.” That’s why receiving the Davies report was so disappointing. It was submitted late and fell far short of the requirements that had been plainly set out in the statement of work. Sure it said everybody thinks we need a carbine, we knew that. Sure it said hurry up and get it into the hands of the front line member. That’s what we were trying to do. What the report didn’t do was to produce an objective, evidence based analysis of our need that would position us to acquire and deploy the carbine in our reality.
It did not provide the critical analysis that the Force and our members would need to defend against criticism for its use when, ultimately it got used. I was disappointed and in June 2010 I wrote Mr. Davies and told him so.
But just because I was disappointed with this deficient report doesn’t mean we stopped or abandoned the project. To the contrary, we had already engaged Defence Research Development Canada by this time in an effort to do the proper analysis and ultimately this allowed us to move forward, identify the Colt C8, and put it in our inventory.
We developed reasonable training standards in line with 9 of the 18 Canadian Police Services we studied. We prepared policies, procurement plans, maintenance, risk assessments and a host of other processes and systems that had to be in place. We succeeded in getting the first carbine out the door in 2013.
Yes we have been carefully deliberate in the roll out and yes, it may be that some aspects could have gone quicker but we currently have 1330 out there, another 219 arriving in October and more coming.
It’s easy to second guess and criticise from the sidelines. Sensational really, especially after the murder of our members, to say “I told those guys to buy the carbines in 2010 all at once and get them out there.” But that isn’t reasonable or practical. Frankly, these claims are consistent with the kind of analysis we were provided in the deficient report in the first place.
My purpose in writing today is not to be defensive, if there are things we need to change we will. I just want to balance the criticism in the
Maclean’s story with reality. I’m not opposed to criticism, I welcome it. I just ask that it be accurate and factual.
All that said none of it helps our departed members, Doug, Dave, Fabrice or their families. I ask you not to disrespect their service and their
sacrifice by unfairly and prematurely judging how or why they died. Let’s get an analysis of what happened and make our decisions and judgments on the back of evidence.