Medicine Hat News

Nova Scotia RCMP, province again under scrutiny over alerts following gunman’s arrest


The RCMP and officials in Nova Scotia are again being accused of failing to properly warn the public about a gunman on the loose.

Tough questions arose after a shooting suspect in New Brunswick remained at large for almost 19 hours before he was arrested early Wednesday by a municipal police force in northern Nova Scotia.

The New Brunswick RCMP confirmed via Twitter at 9:37 a.m. that the suspect’s abandoned vehicle had been found in Amherst, N.S. But it wasn’t until 11:10 a.m. that the Nova Scotia RCMP said in a tweet that it had requested a public alert from the province’s Emergency Management Office.

An Alert Ready text, sent via TV, radio and wireless devices, wasn’t transmitte­d until 11:42 a.m.

Tim Houston, leader of Nova Scotia’s Opposition Progressiv­e Conservati­ves, said that wasn’t good enough.

“If the Emergency Management Office can’t be proactive or timely with emergency alerts, that entire department is in need of an overhaul,” he said in a tweet.

Other social media critics were more blunt, referring to the widespread criticism the Nova Scotia RCMP faced for failing to use the Ready Alert system on April 18-19 when a gunman disguised as a Mountie killed 22 people, having started his rampage in Portapique, N.S.

“So it would appear the RCMP have learned absolutely nothing from the Portapique shooting about how to communicat­e with the public about a shooter, or how to prevent a shooter from just travelling across the province (or the provincial border) at will?” said one post on Twitter.

Some online comments, however, were more forgiving: “They’re getting better after Portapique. Not great yet, but better.”

Nova Scotia Minister of Justice Mark Furey defended the province’s response.

Furey said in an interview the RCMP didn’t send the message about the gunman’s car being found in Amherst to the Emergency Management Office until 11:35 a.m., two hours after New Brunswick

RCMP tweeted about the vehicle. From there, it took only seven minutes to broadcast the prepared message to people in the province, he said.

“Law enforcemen­t is responsibl­e for that period of time,” Furey said. “The police community has to compress that time frame wherever they possibly can.”

Sgt. Andrew Joyce, a spokesman for the Nova Scotia RCMP, did not respond in an email when asked to confirm when Mounties in the province learned about the abandoned car. As well, he said decisions regarding the Ready Alert system are

“based on operations,” offering no details on what happened with the alert system on Wednesday.

The New Brunswick RCMP say 24-yearold Janson Bryan Baker of Moncton was arrested without incident in Amherst by the town’s police force shortly before noon.

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