RCMP training prior to Moncton Mountie shootings was ‘solid,’ expert testifies

Force on trial on 4 Canada Labour Code charges related to shooting deaths of 3 Mounties, wounding of 2
CBC News Posted: Jun 14, 2017 9:22 AM AT Last Updated: Jun 14, 2017 5:42 PM AT

U.S. criminal justice Prof. Pete Blair, centre, with RCMP defence lawyers Jeff Doody and Mark Ertel, testified it's almost impossible to train for every situation imaginable.
U.S. criminal justice Prof. Pete Blair, centre, with RCMP defence lawyers Jeff Doody and Mark Ertel, testified it’s almost impossible to train for every situation imaginable.

The training the RCMP provides to its officers is comparable to police training offered in the United States and a step ahead in some areas, a U.S. expert testified Wednesday during the national police force’s Labour Code trial related to the Moncton Mountie shootings.

Defence witness Pete Blair, a professor of criminal justice at Texas State University, said shootings targeting police were rare prior to June 4, 2014, when Justin Bourque killed three Moncton officers and wounded two others.

It’s impossible to predict and train for every situation, said Blair, who is also the executive director of Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, an organization that aims to provide the best research-based active shooter response training in the U.S.

The RCMP is accused of failing to protect its members during Bourque’s shooting rampage in a residential area of Moncton’s north end.

The police force is charged with violating four provisions of the Canada Labour Code by allegedly failing to provide members with appropriate use-of-force equipment and training for responding to an active threat or active shooting event and failing to ensure the health and safety of every person employed by the force.

Provincial court Judge Leslie Jackson deemed Blair an expert in police training and tactics, specializing in active shooter situations.

He testified it’s not more dangerous for police to enter active shooter situations with a pistol than a carbine rifle.

Either way, police are entering a situation where someone has the intent to kill, he said.

But during cross-examination, Crown prosecutor Paul Adams challenged Blair’s statement, citing his own research indicating pistols are likely ineffective in outdoor shooting events because of greater distances.

About one in five shooting events occurs outdoors, according to Blair, based on his experience in the U.S.

Carbines are semi-automatic, short-barrelled rifles that have a longer and more accurate range than pistols or shotguns.

The use of carbines — and why the Mounties didn’t have them — has been at the centre of the trial, which has been going on since April except for a recent two-week break.

Bourque was carrying a semi-automatic rifle during the Moncton shootings, and the RCMP officers who responded were armed with their duty pistols.

Some previous witnesses have suggested some of the deaths could have been prevented if the officers had been better armed.

About 300 RCMP officers were trained to use carbines by the day of the shootings, but none were in New Brunswick, the trial has heard.

‘Prior to Moncton, we didn’t really see these active shooter events, particularly outdoor shooter events, that are targeted specifically at police officers.’– Pete Blair, criminal justice professor

Adams asked Blair if he was aware 13 officers in Canada have been killed by long guns since 2000. Blair replied he was unaware.

Even if it is “rare” for police officers to be the direct targets, as Blair testified, the risk is still there, the prosecutor argued.

Adams also took issue with Blair’s testimony that in 2014, the U.S. had no specific supervisory training component for active shooting situations.

He pointed out that Blair’s owns program, developed 12 years before the Moncton shootings, teaches that someone has to take control of the situation. Blair agreed.

Training wasn’t mandatory

Still, Blair described the RCMP’s training program in 2014 called Immediate Action Rapid Deployment as a “solid foundation,” saying it was comparable to training in the U.S. The force’s Incident Management/Intervention Model is a step ahead of what’s available in the U.S., he said.

Active shooter training wasn’t mandatory for either the RCMP or police in the U.S. in 2014, but it is mandatory for the RCMP now, the courtroom heard.

Blair cited only a few cases where police were targeted — all of which occurred after the Moncton shootings.

“You can always talk about — could you have possibly trained for something? That’s always possible,” Blair told reporters outside the courthouse.

“But prior to Moncton, we didn’t really see these active shooter events, particularly outdoor shooter events, that are targeted specifically at police officers. Then we saw the Moncton attack happen.”

“There was also a large attack in Dallas, Texas, and in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that has really forced that into the public eye, and people are paying more attention to that particular issue. So you’re seeing many more police forces start to deal with that particular problem and train on it.”

The trial resumes Thursday at 9:30 a.m.

Bourque is serving five life sentences with no chance of parole for 75 years after pleading guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *