In the last week, we have received a number of media inquiries about police readiness in the event of a mass shooting. The public interest in this subject caused us to realize that not everyone is fully aware of our preparedness for critical incidents.
We view this as an opportunity to inform citizens about our approach without compromising officer safety or jeopardizing policing tactics.
First and foremost, we strive to prevent such incidents. To do this we extensively train and equip our officers so they are ready to respond. As was evidenced on Valentine’s Day, police continually monitor intelligence for threats and immediately follow-up on information to stop violent acts from occurring in our community.
After any critical incident, police agencies around the world re-examine existing practices. The goal is to continually assess, modify and learn from and incorporate best practices. For over 10 years, we have been training officers using interactive drills and scenario-based training. Officers have also received live-fire training and participated in simulator exercises which create an interactive environment to practice rapid deployment skills.
Our training instructs officers to approach, seek out the source of the violence, stop the threat, and identify victims to ensure they get immediate assistance in an unfolding and chaotic situation. They are trained to be the ones running toward the threat while everyone else is running away from it.
Our officers recertify annually in the use of firearms. We also have senior experienced officers trained as Critical Incident Commanders who assess risks and make public safety decisions. Our Emergency Response Teams are at the ready to respond to such incidents and have specialized resources available for weapons-related incidents, including an active shooter. They also know how to back each other up in the event of a protracted or complex event. We also have dedicated patrol carbine operators equipped and assigned across the city and province, providing additional firepower to engage a threat from a greater distance.
We can’t prevent these tragedies alone. We need people to speak up so that we can swiftly act on information and take steps to stop the planned act(s). Our citizens can call us about such threats at 902-490-5020, 1-800-803-7267 or do so anonymously through Crime Stoppers by calling toll-free 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), submitting a secure web tip at www.crimestoppers.ns.ca or texting a tip – Tip 202 + your message to 274637.
We recognize that the conspiracy to commit murder at Halifax Shopping Centre on Valentine’s Day has greatly impacted our community and our province. We rely on you, the public, to assist us by providing information before or during any critical incident by adhering to our instructions and counsel in the event of such an incident. We hope that the information we’ve provided instills confidence that we’re prepared to respond to such incidents.
C/Supt Marlene Snowman
Acting Commanding Officer
Nova Scotia RCMP
Jean-Michel (JM) Blais
Chief of Police
Halifax Regional Police