RCMP faced number of challenges in hunt for Justin Bourque in Moncton

The Canadian Press
Published on January 16, 2015

Police keep watch on a house as they search for a heavily armed gunman following the shooting of three Mounties in Moncton, N.B., on June 5, 2014. A review of the shooting rampage in Moncton that killed three Mounties and wounded two others last year is being released today. The RCMP says it will also respond to recommendations included in the report prepared by retired assistant commissioner Phonse MacNeil.

©THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison

MONCTON, N.B. - RCMP officers responding to the fatal police shootings in Moncton last year faced a number of challenges that included communicating accurate information, accessing high-powered weaponry and securing hard body armour, says a review released Friday.

The report makes 64 recommendations that call for better access to shotguns and rifles, standard equipment for emergency response teams, improvements in radio communication and training to better prepare supervisors for critical incidents.

It highlighted a number of problems the Mounties faced when they were searching for Justin Bourque, who was arrested 28 hours after the June 4 shooting rampage began.

“Accurate risk assessments were difficult as members were calling for ambulances to multiple locations,” the 180-page report said.


“Sightings were being reported based on caller location (as opposed to suspect location), then broadcast out of order. There were wounded members in need of medical attention. ... Based on the radio traffic, it would have been nearly impossible to form an accurate tactical view of the situation.”

While there were five RCMP tactical armoured vehicles deployed for emergency response team use, one tactical armoured vehicle from the Quebec RCMP was not deployed as it was in Montreal and not requested, the report said.

“The RCMP TAV was designed for this type of operation and, given the scale of this incident, having as many as possible was essential,” it said. “To mitigate the shortage of TAVs, commercial armoured trucks were put into use.”

One RCMP tactical armoured vehicle from Nova Scotia was dispatched but it broke down and a mechanic was sent to fix it. The report recommended tactical armoured vehicles travelling long distances should go by rail or flatbed truck.

Many RCMP officers did not know that hard body armour was available in vehicles while others were not familiar with how to wear the equipment properly, the report said.

“This all speaks to a general lack of knowledge and understanding with respect to how and when HBA must be worn,” the report said.

The RCMP should have also considered asking for the help of the military, given its specialized and unique capabilities and equipment, it added.

The RCMP said it accepts all of the review's recommendations and has started implementing them.

“We must learn from this tragedy,” RCMP deputy commissioner Janice Armstrong said in a statement.

“It is our duty to make sure all RCMP employees on the front lines are as prepared as possible to meet the threats we face every day.”

In October, Bourque was sentenced to life in prison with no eligibility for parole for 75 years after pleading guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.

Bourque, 25, admitted in a statement to police that he used a semi-automatic rifle to shoot the five officers in the city's north end.

Afterwards, he fled into the woods near a suburban neighbourhood, where he was later arrested.

Bourque killed constables Dave Ross, Fabrice Gevaudan and Doug Larche. Constables Eric Dubois and Darlene Goguen were injured.


Key recommendations from report on fatal shootings of Mounties in Moncton

Some of the key recommendations in a report released Friday on the fatal shootings last year of three Mounties in Moncton, N.B.:

- Better training is needed to prepare supervisors to manage such incidents until a critical incident commander assumes command.

- General duty officers who are trained in the use of a long-barreled gun where they are available must ensure the weapon is in their vehicle while on duty.

- Firearms must be stored with sufficient ammunition.

- All officers should receive a briefing and demonstration on the appropriate use of hard body armour.

- The Codiac detachment in southeast New Brunswick should look at radio coverage outside of central Moncton because there are areas with gaps in coverage.

- Officers should be allowed to use plain language on radio communications instead of a code system in urgent situations.

- Members of the RCMP need better access to ammunition for practice.

- The RCMP should consider broadening its support for initiatives that support young people with mental illness.

- The RCMP's critical incident stress management team should include experienced psychologists who understand policing, experienced RCMP peer support personnel, RCMP chaplains and nurses trained for such situations.

- The RCMP should expedite the deployment of patrol carbines, a type of assault rifle used by the military and many police departments, across the force.