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

Abbotsford shooting victim named by IHIT

Investigators are seeking dash cam footage, information from locals regarding Friday’s death

Overnight paving work near Abbotsford could snarl highway traffic

Fraser Valley motorists told to expect detours as the paving work continues until July 14 at 5 a.m.

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Child falls down Bridal Veil Falls near Chilliwack, crews on scene

An 11-year-old boy fell over the falls about 25 to 30 feet and has suffered a head injury

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Washington’s NFL team drops ‘Redskins’ name after 87 years

The franchise was given the name back in 1933, when it was still in Boston

Fraser Valley loses the Keith Wilson Waver as Ron Hupper passes away

Hupper brought smiles to the faces of hundreds of people traveling Chilliwack’s Keith Wilson Road

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Most Read