RCMP officers dressed in formal red serge were often unarmed. That has changed in the wake of the Oct. 22 shooting of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo on Parliament Hill.

RCMP tightens volunteer security after Ottawa attack

Auxilliary protection stepped up, police officers in red serge will now always be armed due to RCMP policy change

Last month’s attacks on Canadian soldiers in Ottawa and Montreal have prompted the RCMP to arm officers who appear in public in red serge and to take extra steps to protect auxiliary constables who volunteer unarmed in the community.

The new requirement for direct supervision is expected to mean more armed regular RCMP officers accompanying unarmed auxiliaries at major public events than did in the past, according to Assistant Commissioner Dan Malo, the Lower Mainland District Commander for the RCMP.

“Our reality changed after the events of Ottawa,” Malo said, referring to the Oct. 22 killing of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo as he guarded the National War Memorial on Parliament Hill.

He predicted the main impact will be on police staffing of major summer festivals.

“It’s a shift in our cultural thinking on how we deploy police officers or anybody that is identifiable with law enforcement.”

Operational decisions on exactly how those events are staffed will be up to the local commander based on their assessment of potential threats and other factors.

Malo was not able to say whether the changes will increase costs to cities or decrease the number of offices on duty to respond to other calls, but added policing costs will likely rise for some festivals.

That prospect has alarmed Coquitlam city council, which voted to write to RCMP national headquarters to protest the change.

The letter warns the new policy directive threatens cost-effective policing and will impact a broad range of community programs in schools and parks that are staffed by Coquitlam’s 49 auxiliaries.

“Such a change will also have a significant financial impact if sworn officers are required to provide direct supervision of all activities performed by our auxiliary constables,” the letter states. “Our existing complement of regular members will no longer be freed up to attend to other scheduled duties.”

More than 1,100 auxiliaries assist with policing across B.C. and Malo said it’s appropriate to be more careful than in the past, depending on the circumstances.

“I consider them community heroes,” Malo said. “They’re volunteers who volunteer hundreds if not thousands of hours to wear an RCMP uniform and serve their community. We have to make sure these local heroes are protected.”

RCMP officers appearing in the community in red serge often were not armed in the past.

That has changed and those officers will now carry firearms, including at Remembrance Day ceremonies.

“At things like funerals it’s very traditional we were not armed,” Malo said. “Now you will see when we are identifiable we are always armed.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Summerland’s proposed budget requires $16,382,355

2020 budget is nearly half a million higher than the 2019 municipal budget of $15,905,410

Almost 20,000 parking tickets issued by Interior Health at hospitals in 2019

In 2018, pay parking in Interior Health hospitals totalled $5.3 million of their $2.2-billion budget

Five-goal outburst leads Vees to victory

The Penticton Vees continued their march to the playoffs with a 5-2 win over the Warriors, Tuesday.

Summerland taxes expected to rise by 4.0%

Increase to add an estimated $77.73 to typical tax bill

Four things ‘not’ to do if you run into Harry and Meghan in B.C.

Like many in British Columbia, you may be worried about running into… Continue reading

Behind the scenes: The ‘unsung heroes’ of the South Okanagan Events Centre

Large numbers of local workers benefit from the big productions that come to Penticton each year.

Vernon-based company nominated for B.C. small business award

Summit Tiny Homes is one of five finalists for the small business award

Harry and Meghan should cover their own security costs: NDP heritage critic

The prince, Meghan Markle and their eight-month-old son Archie are reportedly staying at a mansion near Victoria

UBC Okanagan art students to improve the environment one project at a time

The Ecosine Art Group uses non-purchased, recyclable mediums for 50 per cent of their art

Disability proves no barrier for 12-year-old Kelowna sit skier

Samuel is a 12-year-old double leg amputee who independently sit-skis

West Kelowna man charged with attempted murder of 79-year-old mother back in court

Kevin Lee Barrett was charged in April 2019 after allegedly beating his mother, leaving her stranded

Theo the 800-pound pig trimmed down and still looking for love on Vancouver Island

“He’s doing really well, lost quite a few pounds and can run now.”

Hudson’s Bay spotlights old Vernon store

Old downtown department store remembered fondly

Horgan unveils B.C. cabinet shuffle changes

Premier John Horgan has made three major changes to his cabinet

Most Read