Investigation of mass shootings in Canada identifies many police failings

TRURO, Nova Scotia (AP) – A public inquiry has found widespread failures in Canada’s federal police response to the country’s worst mass shooting and recommends the government reconsider the central role of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in policing the country.

In a seven-volume report released Thursday, the Mass Casualty Commission also says that in the years leading up to the Shooting spree in Nova Scotia on April 18-19, 2020, in which 22 people were killed by a denture disguised as an RCMP officer driving a replica police vehicle.

Assailant Gabriel Wortman was killed by two Mounties at a gas station in Enfield, Nova Scotia, 13 hours after his rampage. Disguised as a police officerWortman shot people dead in their homes and set fires in a killing spree that included 16 crime scenes in five rural communities in Canada’s province of Nova Scotia.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it one of the darkest chapters in Canadian history and said he hopes the report is one of many steps to ensure a tragedy like this never happens again. Trudeau attended the release of the report in Nova Scotia and said his government will scrutinize it closely. “There is no question that there must be and there will be changes,” Trudeau said.

The Commission says, among other things, that the national police force is severely disorganized. His review of the RCMP’s 5,000 pages of policies and procedures found that the force’s own members were unclear about the proper responses to critical incidents and communication with the public.

The report goes deep into the causes of the mass shooting. These include the killer’s violence toward his spouse and the failure of police to take action, as well as “implicit biases” that appeared to blind officials and community members to the danger posed by a white, male professional.

In response, the commissioners are calling for a future RCMP that will do away with the current 26-week training model – as it no longer suffices for the complex demands of policing. The academy would be replaced by a three-year, degree-based educational model, as exists in Finland.

The document begins with an account of police errors in the years leading up to the murders and the events of April 18 and 19.

The summary of the report states that shortly after the shooting began in Portapique, Nova Scotia, RCMP commanders disregarded testimonies and senior Mounties mistakenly assumed residents were wrong when they reported seeing the killer carrying a fully marked RCMP -Cruiser drove.

“Important sources of information from the community were ignored,” it says.

In addition, the report said police failed to immediately send alerts describing the killer to the public until it was too late for some of his victims.

After uncovering a slew of flaws, the probe is calling for a fresh external review of police forces. The federal minister of public safety should then set priorities for the RCMP, “maintaining those responsibilities that are appropriate for a federal police agency and identifying which responsibilities are better delegated to other agencies.”

“This may prompt a reconfiguration of policing in Canada and a new approach to federal financial support for provincial and local police services,” the report said.

Michael Duheme, the RCMP interim commissioner, said he had not had time to go through the recommendations, although the RCMP received a copy of the report on Wednesday.

Duheme said he was “deeply sorry” for the pain and suffering the victims’ families had to endure. “I can’t even imagine what you went through,” he said, adding that the RCMP “needs to learn and we are committed to doing just that.”

Dennis Daley, the head of the RCMP in Nova Scotia, told the families he knew the response “wasn’t what it was supposed to be. And I am deeply sorry about that.”

Victims of the worst mass shooting in Canada included an RCMP officer, a teacher, health care workers, retirees, the shooter’s neighbors and two law enforcement officers killed in their home. The killing spree began when Wortman attacked his spouse.

“Nothing will bring my brother or any of the other people back into this horrible ordeal,” said Scott McLeod, brother of victim Sean McLeod. “If this report makes a positive difference nationwide, I know it will be appreciated by families.”

The report describes Wortman ‘s history of domestic violence in his relationships with women, including his wife Lisa Banfield. In particular, the report mentions the experience of Brenda Forbes, a neighbor in Portapique, who briefed the RCMP on Wortman’s violence against Banfield. He never faced any consequences, but she had to deal with years of stalking, harassment, and threats from Wortman, which prompted her to leave the province.

Jessica Zita, attorney for Banfield, read a statement from her client in which she hopes there will be significant changes to the recommendations, particularly those dealing with domestic violence.

Mass shootings are relatively rare in Canada. The country revised its gun control laws after gunman Marc Lepine killed 14 women and himself at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique in 1989. Before the Nova Scotia killing spree, which had been the country’s worst,

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