RCMP release statement regarding timing of emergency alerts

(Editor’s note: Take our quickpoll on the response time of the EMO alert yesterday, here.)

Public Statement from C/Supt. Chris Leather
January 7, 2020, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia…

With yesterday’s search for a man wanted in New Brunswick in relation to a shooting on January 5, 2021, an emergency alert was issued in Nova Scotia at the request of the Nova Scotia RCMP. This marked our third use of the Alert Ready system in this province.

It is clear there is political and public desire for police to issue emergency alerts. This desire manifests as demand without understanding of public safety risk or the incident. This is reflected in demands for alerts to be issued sooner and even for incidents where the alert may result in greater harm to the public or police. Public statements being made without fact undermine excellent police work and solid operational decisions. 

Police are in the unenviable position of deciding on when and in what circumstances alerts are issued. These are not easy decisions, but we face them with one commitment in mind: Resolving incidents in a way that results in the least amount of risk to the public and officers. We know the desire for information when incidents are unfolding. We communicate publicly in real time and have been doing this very well for years.

It was in 2020 when emergency alerts began to be used for police incidents within Canada. As such, an emergency alert is one of the tools we now use for mass public communications. There are others including social media, websites and media relations.

With regard to yesterday’s search for the man wanted in New Brunswick, these are the facts:

A vehicle abandoned in Amherst was confirmed to be the suspect’s vehicle yesterday morning. The New Brunswick RCMP tweeted this at 9:37 a.m., following another tweet where they advised that residents should go about their daily routines. Amherst Police Department did not issue an alert as a result of the abandoned vehicle. While I cannot speak for Amherst Police Department I can say that at that time the RCMP would not have issued an alert either, despite the public and political calls for an alert.

The New Brunswick RCMP was continuing to lead the investigation and further the search for the suspect, with assistance of the Amherst Police Department and Nova Scotia RCMP. Officers in both provinces were doing police work, gathering facts, following up on leads, and speaking with suspect family members and close contacts to find and arrest the suspect. All the while continuously assessing the situation from a public safety perspective.

The behind the scenes police work that took place in order to be in a position to locate and arrest the suspect without incident was incredible and something to support rather than criticize.

When we were confident a public alert would not impede his apprehension, jeopardize public or police safety, we requested an alert be issued.

No police officer or agency can know everything about an evolving situation immediately and to imply anything to the contrary is reckless. It is our responsibility, our duty, and our commitment to the public to investigate, gather facts, determine risk, and act to protect people.

That is what was done – collaboratively between New Brunswick RCMP, various RCMP detachments in our province and with our partner agencies in Nova Scotia – and no one else was injured.

Thank you to those who continue to support us.

Best regards,

Chief Superintendent Chris Leather
Criminal Operations Officer
Nova Scotia RCMP

Source: Release #notw

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