Arming front-line RCMP officers with carbine rifles was not a priority in 2009, a retired deputy commissioner testified Friday at the national police force’s Labour Code trial in connection with the 2014 shooting deaths of three Moncton Mounties and wounding of two others.
The RCMP 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.
Although the RCMP was looking into carbines in 2009, Darrell Madill acknowledged under cross-examination by the Crown the force was more focused on polices on use of force and Tasers and similar weapons after the 2007 Taser death of Robert Dziekański at the Vancouver airport.
“You had the opportunity to put [carbines] on the front burner, but you did not,” prosecutor Paul Adams said.
“We had to build a case,” replied Madill. The public backlash over Tasers following Dziekański’s death illustrated the need for demonstrating due diligence, he said.
The risk of the force losing Tasers in the fallout made collecting data about Taser use a high priority, said Madill.
“How many more officers would have to be killed before [carbines] became a top priority?” grilled Adams.
He noted nine of the last 10 officers murdered were killed by long guns. In the Moncton shootings, “we had three families destroyed,” he said.
Adams asked whether it was fair to say the RCMP knew frontline officers were facing injury and death without being properly equipped.
Madill, whose job was operational policy, said he had established there was a firearms gap and a need, but weapons were not his responsibility.
If he had thought buying a carbine could save a life, or a family from hardship, he would have bought one himself, he said.