RCMP Comments on Firearm Training, Officer Shootings, New AR-15

5 Jul 2019

6 min read

TheGunBlog.ca — The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada’s largest police agency, comments below on its guns, firearm training, support and requirements for officers involved in shootings, and related topics.

Caroline Duval, a spokeswoman for the Ottawa-based RCMP, sent the comments to TheGunBlog.ca by e-mail on July 3 in response to our questions.

We summarize our questions under each heading.

The RCMP handles tasks from policing cities and airplanes to personal protection for government officials to SWAT and counter-terrorism.


Training and Use of Force

How do you train officers to use firearms and lethal force, including mindset, tactics and handling?

The RCMP is committed to providing its police officers with firearms training to ensure the safety of its officers and the public. RCMP officers are required to re-qualify every year ensuring they maintain their skills and are able to apply current best practices. Initial training and in-service training address the operational realities RCMP officers face in their daily duties. This includes high-risk calls for service involving armed person(s), armed and barricaded person(s) and active threats.

Incidents involving police use of force are complex, dynamic and constantly evolving, oftentimes in a highly-charged atmosphere. Police officers must make split-second decisions when it comes to use of force. For this reason, the Incident Management Intervention Model (IMIM) is introduced in the second week at the RCMP’s Training Academy, Depot, and then integrated into all other relevant aspects of training for the remaining 22 weeks. After leaving Depot, annual IMIM re-certification is mandatory for all regular members.

The IMIM trains members to consider all intervention options, and outlines the various levels of force available, based on subject behaviour, situational factors, tactical considerations and the officer’s assessment. Situational factors vary widely, but may include: weather conditions, location, number of subjects and presence of weapons. These are all taken into account to appropriately determine what action(s) to take.

Use of the IMIM promotes continuous risk assessment based on the subject’s behaviour and the situation. After an incident, the model can also help a police officer articulate the factors he or she considered when choosing the appropriate force.

Link to IMIM page, including diagram of the IMIM: http://www.rcmp.gc.ca/en/incident-management-intervention-model-imim

Gear

What guns and ammo do you issue to officers in the various services? How is gear selected, tested, issued?

For security reasons the RCMP does not make it a practice to disclose all the weapons platforms and training our officers have at their disposal. Some of this information has made its way into the public record, but the capabilities of individual officers and specialized units cannot be made public as they provide information on what type of response/tactics RCMP officers have available to them — potentially putting both the public and police at risk.

Patrol Carbine

How many Colt Canada C8 rifles are in use, how many more are coming? What’s involved in training thousands of officers in new equipment?

The RCMP has taken significant steps to modernize police training and equipment. After the murders of three RCMP officers in Moncton in June 2014, the RCMP committed to having 65 per cent of our front-line members carbine-trained by April 1, 2018. This goal was met by the target date.

The RCMP now has over 75 per cent of our front-line members trained on the patrol carbine.

Since 2016, all RCMP cadets receive patrol carbine and Immediate Action Rapid Deployment (active threat) training upon graduation.

In January 2018, the RCMP made active threat training, including both indoor and outdoor Immediate Action Rapid Deployment training, mandatory for all operational RCMP officers.

As of April 2019, the RCMP has almost 5,500 patrol carbines. All RCMP jurisdictions have on-going carbine training and acquisition plans that will continue for the foreseeable future. Patrol carbines are distributed by RCMP divisions to detachments based on threat-risk assessments.

Member-Involved Shooting Data

How often do officers use their firearms on duty, with or without discharging?

From 2012 to 2018 (inclusive), RCMP officers have reported 17,077 firearms usages. 99.1 per cent of these incidents were categorized as “draw and display,” meaning no shots were fired. Other categories of firearms usage include: discharging a firearm with no reported injuries, discharging a firearm with reported injuries and discharging a firearm that resulted in the death of the subject.

From 2012 to 2018 (inclusive), RCMP officers have been involved in 101 member-involved shootings (an average of 14 a year), that resulted in injury to, or the death of, the subject.

From 2012 to 2018 (inclusive), the RCMP averages over 2.72 million occurrences (this can be reflective of a call for service, or an occurrence that is self-generated), per year, entered into RCMP records management systems.

From 2012 to 2018 (inclusive), RCMP officers drew and displayed or discharged a firearm in 0.09 per cent of RCMP occurrences.

From 2012 to 2018 (inclusive), RCMP officers discharged a firearm resulting in a fatality, in 0.0002 per cent of RCMP occurrences.

Reporting Firearms Use and Accountability

What happens after an officer on duty draws or discharges their firearm: procedurally, emotionally-mentally, …?

The RCMP’s National “Reporting Discharge of Firearms” policy sets out the guidelines for reporting intentional and unintentional discharges of firearms, starting with the RCMP member, his or her supervisor, and all the way up to the Commanding Officer for the RCMP division in which the firearms discharge took place.

Some RCMP divisions will have division/district/detachment policies that supplement national policy. These supplements consider additional provincial or municipal reporting requirements.

The RCMP’s definition of a Member-Involved Shooting (M-IS) is an intentional or unintentional discharge of a firearm involving:

  • an on-duty member with any firearm, or an off-duty member with an RCMP-issued firearm;
  • human death, human injury, risk to public safety and/or property damage; or
  • another person discharging a firearm at a member, or RCMP transport or property.

The policy states that an unintentional discharge that occurs during training or an RCMP-sanctioned event, and does not involve human death, injury or risk to public or member safety and/or property damage, must be reported.

Discharging a firearm at an animal that is posing a risk to the public or member safety constitutes an M-IS, e.g. a dog attacking a person.

The exception to the reporting requirement is an intentional discharge that occurs during training, an approved firearms practice, training or qualification event, or while putting down an animal for humane reasons, unless human death, injury or risk to public or member safety and/or property damage occurs.

If an RCMP officer intentionally discharges a firearm in the course of his or her duties, Subject Behaviour/Officer Response (SB/OR) reporting is required. SB/OR reporting is a standardized method to record and explain the intervention strategies that an officer chose to manage an incident.

If the discharge of a firearm by an RCMP officer occurs during a Major Police Incident, an incident where there is a serious injury or death of an individual involving an RCMP member, or where it appears that an RCMP member may have contravened a provision of the Criminal Code or other statute and the matter is of a serious or sensitive nature, there are additional requirements.

This may take the form of an Independent Officer Review (IOR), which is an administrative review (fact-finding inquiry) of a member’s actions and his/her application of the RCMP Incident Management Intervention Model, policies, and training that is conducted by a commissioned officer/delegate who is independent of the M-IS.

The RCMP’s National External Investigations or Review policy may also apply. Some provinces have investigative bodies established to conduct investigations into major police incidents where there is a serious injury or death of an individual involving a police officer.

The RCMP’s Discharge of Firearms policy further states that an RCMP officer involved in an M-IS should immediately notify his/her supervisor. If the M-IS is a major police incident, the RCMP officer is directed to refer to the RCMP’s Responsibility to Report Policy, which is designed to fulfill the RCMP’s requirement to be accountable to Canadians while respecting the individual rights of RCMP members. The RCMP officer is also directed to complete an SB/OR report.

Each additional supervisor’s responsibility, per the Discharge of Firearms policy, adds in layers of accountability to ensure that additional policies and procedures are followed and/or engaged, as appropriate.

This also includes completing/reviewing briefing notes without delay and completing a Member-Involved Shooting Incident Summary report within 48 hours. This information is shared by each supervisory level to increasingly higher supervisory levels. These documents are also reviewed at increasingly higher levels at the divisional level, as well as National Headquarters.

Supervisors are also required to notify RCMP Health Services Officers per the RCMP’s Reporting Psychologically Traumatic Incidents appendix to the RCMP administration manual. This makes a psychological debrief of the RCMP officer mandatory, and encourages RCMP officers to seek appropriate mental-health supports.


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